Merced County rejects $3 million claim in man’s death

AK Riggs Ambulance Service 7

A Los Banos family filed a $3 million claim against Merced County alleging Riggs Ambulance Service is to blame for the death of a 30-year-old family member.

The claim was rejected by the Board of Supervisors last week. The family now has six months to file a lawsuit. The family declined comment when reached on Friday.

According to the claim the family says Ryan Kersthold died Aug. 26, 2014, after Riggs personnel “did not perform appropriate CPR” and delayed transporting him to the hospital. The family claims the responders told them Kersthold had no pulse, but a heartbeat was detected at the hospital.

The family demanded $3 million from the county, including $450,000 in lost wages from Kersthold’s income, $2.1 million in attorney’s fees and an unspecified amount for medical treatment, pain and suffering.

Merced County’s chief civil litigator, Roger Matzkind, said the county rejected the family’s claim because it’s not a responsible party to the incident.

“We had nothing to do with it. Riggs is not part of the county,” Matzkind said Friday. “It’s just an ambulance company – they’re not us. If the family thinks there was something wrong with the service provided by the ambulance company, then the remedy would be to go after the ambulance company and they would respond.”

Merced County’s public health department oversees the 5-year contract it has with Riggs, Matzkind said, but it has nothing to do with specific incidents. The county monitors the ambulance provider’s response times, handles patient care complaints and ensures contract compliance.

“There are certain general regulatory things the county oversees, but it wouldn’t encompass any specific incident,” he said.

In 7 months time the attorneys have done $2.1 mil. worth of work in this case? This suit is not for the family but for the atty’s. pocket book. If the family is right they should be compensated not the shysters, That should be illegal.