City of Cincinnati Responds to Lawsuit From Family of Kyle Plush

City Manager Patrick Duhaney expressed continued condolences to the Plush family, but pointed to a number of changes the city has made to its emergency response system and said the city would defend itself in court

Aug 13, 2019 at 12:06 pm
click to enlarge Kyle Plush - Provided
Kyle Plush

The City of Cincinnati has responded to a lawsuit by the family of Kyle Plush, the 16-year-old who died last year while trapped in his minivan after calling 911 twice. 

The wrongful death suit filed by attorneys Al Gerhardstein and Jennifer Branch alleges that the city hasn't answered important questions about Plush's death and hasn't done enough to make sure a similar incident doesn't happen in the future. 

The city, however, says it will fight the suit in court, pointing to a number of efforts it has made since Plush's April 2018 death. In a statement released yesterday evening, City Manager Patrick Duhaney expressed deep regret for Plush's death but also defended the city's moves to improve its Emergency Communications Center. Duhaney wrote:

The City of Cincinnati continues to express its condolences to the Plush family for the tragic loss of their son, Kyle. Every day since April 10, 2018, the City has worked to evaluate, review and enhance the ways in which we respond to emergencies. This includes adding Smart911 and RapidSOS technologies at the Emergency Communications Center, improving the ability of E911 Operators to locate callers in distress, and increasing staffing at the ECC. As a result, the ECC exceeds state and national standards for 9-1-1 call answering. We have developed and implemented these changes in a transparent and collaborative manner.

Our first responders, both sworn and civilian, have dedicated their lives to protecting the public and are committed to faithfully executing their duties.

We were notified today that the Plush family has filed a lawsuit against the City of Cincinnati. The City Solicitor’s Office will defend both the City and its employees and officials named in the suit. Given that there is active litigation, there will be no further comment from the Administration at this time."

The city has published details about its "ECC Action Plan," a multi-pronged approach to addressing long-running issues with the 911 center's technology, staffing, training and other issues. That plan has more than 60 items — all but seven of which have been marked "complete." However, data from the city also shows that the call center still wasn't fully staffed as of May 2019, more than a year after Plush's death. 

Attorneys for Plush's family say two ECC dispatchers made critical errors during the Plush tragedy, including failure to share details about the location of the van he was trapped in, miscategorization of his 911 call, a seven-minute delay in entering Plush's call into the computer-aided dispatch system and failure to notify police about his second 911 call and the urgency Plush expressed. Attorneys also say the two responding officers failed to search the entire parking lot where Plush was trapped and did not leave their cruisers during the search.