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Family Files Lawsuit Against West Michigan Hospital After Son’s Death

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MONTCALM COUNTY, Mich. (June 25, 2014)– A local family is filing a lawsuit against a hospital in West Michigan, claiming it’s responsible for the death of their son.

For the past four years Shannon Rudy says she has lived with panic attacks, depression and trouble remembering her day-to-day activities. The trauma comes after the youngest of her three children, Dakota Rudy, died at just 7-years-old.

On Aug. 23, 2010, Shannon said her spent that summer day playing outside near their home in Fowler. She said, as boys tend to do, he got dirty and came inside to take a bath.

“I went in and checked on him and had him drain the water once ’cause the water was little dirty,” Rudy said.

Upon leaving the bathroom Rudy grabbed a cup of coffee and began chatting with her father outside.

“The next thing I knew, his friend was in the bathtub with him, same age and he came out here and told my daughter to come get Dakota,”Rudy said. “She didn’t even get to the door, I heard her yell at me to come in.”

Rudy said when she entered the bathroom her daughter had already pulled Cody from the water. She said he was pale and wasn’t breathing. The boy’s grandfather began CPR.

Rudy said her son, who was only under water for a short period of time, started coughing up water and began breathing again. While he appeared to be OK, emergency crews were already on their way to their home, so Rudy said she sent her son to Carson City Hospital as a precaution.

“I thought we were just… we were going to go to the hospital…it was a check-up…we were coming home…we were going to go back to our normal daily life,” Rudy said.

On the way to the hospital Cody began to panic and his oxygen levels started to deplete.

“I was sitting there telling him everything’s going to be OK because I had to hold his arm,” Rudy said.

A doctor and some nurses, according to Rudy, began administering drugs to stop Cody’s breathing, but failed to properly open his airway while intubating him.

“The tube was improper and it just seemed like forever,” Rudy said. “It was horrible. It was forever.”

With the chaos unfolding before her, Rudy said she remembered the doctors saying her son wasn’t getting any oxygen from the first tube they placed in him. Then, she said they replaced it with a second tube.

Nearly 20 minutes after that tube was placed, she said a flight nurse showed up to airlift her son to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. She said once the nurse came into her son’s room, she listened to his chest and announced he wasn’t getting any oxygen.

“That whole time he was without oxygen and I knew that there’s no way that he could’ve survived at that point ’cause it was too long,” Rudy said. “The,  I seen him when they were ready to take him to the helicopter and you could tell nothing was there. He wasn’t there, ya know, his eyes were open and he wasn’t there.”

Cody was pronounced dead the following day.

Two years later, Shannon and her attorney, Tim Sulolli filed a lawsuit against Carson City Hospital claiming medical malpractice.

“We retained three medical experts, one of whom is a medical director of the pediatric critical care center [at UCLA] to review the case,” Tim Sulolli, attorney with Goodman Acker P.C. said. “They all came to the same conclusion that Dakota’s death was entirely preventable. That Dakota should never have died if Carson City would’ve followed basic protocol in treating a child of that age.”

According to court documents, the hospital claims Cody died from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is when fluid builds up in a person’s lungs.

However, an expert for Sulolli stated that is not what caused Cody’s death.

“The critical thing when you take away somebody’s ability to breathe for themselves and exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide for themselves is to get the right size tube in a timely fashion, and then ventilate them in the appropriate manner,” Doctor Judith Brill said in court documents.”That’s what wasn’t done here. And that’s the causation.”

FOX 17 reached out to Joan Sweet, who said she represents the hospital. Sweet said due to patient confidentiality and “physical privilege” she wasn’t able to discuss the lawsuit.

“I just wish they would state they made a mistake,” Rudy said. “I have a lot of anger. I have a whole lot of anger inside of me that I wish wasn’t there.”

While it’s not clear what caused his oxygen to decrease once he got to Carson City, family said, an x-ray showed there was some fluid in his lungs. Still, Sulolli’s experts said it wouldn’t have caused his death, adding his lungs were eligible to be donated.

“I know it wasn’t his lungs that killed him,” Brill said. “Because if you follow on and see what his lungs did with support at DeVos for the subsequent 48 hours, his lungs improved. So his lungs–he didn’t die of pulmonary death. He died of brain death.”

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  • John

    How did a 7 yr old drown in a bathtub, something doesn't make any sense here? If the child had any issues whereas he could possibly drown shouldn't the mother have stayed in the bathroom? It's always easier to point at someone else. Deepest condolences and may this boy rest in peace, no amount of money will bring him back.

    • anonymous

      No need to be rude sir. As far as you know there was no issue, a freak accident could have been the cause. Maybe they’re not looking for money, maybe they’re trying to save others lives by sharing their story.

    • anonymous

      Dear sir, you are absolutely correct, no amount of money will bring their Cody back! And you are also absolutely correct in saying there is something that doesn't make sense and that is why did this happen? As it clearly states in the article Cody was not "left unattended in the bathtub", as I read it there were at least 4 people in very close proximity including his sister, mother. grandfather and his best friend. It also clearly states that Cody appeared ok after his grandpa reacted to the situation with CPR and was able to get him breathing again. With the emergency crews already en route, his mother decides as a precaution to have him checked out anyway, as a mother that makes perfect sense to me! What happened inside that emergency room is what makes absolutely no sense here, things like they gave him medication to stop his breathing and failed to properly open his airway not only once, but twice?! Things like "getting the right size tube in a timely fashion" and "ventilate in an appropriate manner", those are not things in any mother or father's control and certainly did not happen in the bathtub at their home!

  • anonymous

    How does a 7 yr old drown in a tub???? The same way adults have drown in the tub! It’s not rocket science… Freak accidents happen!!! Of course things do not make sense. I’m certain that some things don’t make sense to the family either. They lost a child, & wanted to share the story. I think it took great courage to get in front of a camera and talk about such a heart wrenching issue. No he didn’t have any issues that would require his mother to observe his bath time.
    They are not looking for anyone’s sympathy. They are not looking for money, or hand outs of any kind. They wanted to share the story of Cody a son, brother, & friend to many. Your comment as to them wanting to point at someone else was rude, unsympathetic, and completely uncalled for. You better hope and pray sir nothing like this ever happens to anyone you love. I’m sure your view on it would surely change!
    My sympathy to the Rudy’s.

  • Misdiagnosed

    I myself have had several situations at Carson City Hospital that have made me no longer trust them at all. I would never go there again. I even went so far as to move out of the area to be nearer to other hospitals as I have health problems that sometimes need emergency treatment, and they just don't know or care about what they are doing there. In fact, if you go at night, they act like they are being bothered. I say….if it's a matter of life or death….avoid Carson City Hospital at ll costs!!!

  • Sarah Seymour-Winfield

    My husband suffered irreversible brain damage in an emergency room, and 48 hours later, I asked that life-support be withdrawn. He also was oxygen deprived for 20 minutes. But I consciously chose not to sue, because I knew that my husband and I, the unfortunate doctor and staff had all been plunged into a tragedy which united us in our humanity rather than divided us as foes. I wrote a book about my experience, and about how I believe that addressing compassion, mercy and forgiveness to all involved in the medical event is far more important than the unintentional harm inflicted by the unfortunate physician. I have never regretted my decision. The book I wrote about that experience is called ‘Pandemic of Opportunism; America’s Misuse of Medical Malpractice Litigation,’ and is available in paperback and hardback from braughlerbooks.com. 937-58-books
    My condolences not only to the Rudy family, but to ER doctors, the hospital and its staff.
    Sarah L. Seymour-Winfield

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