Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tumbling down......

"This thing has destroyed our lives forever," stated Maggie Cosmillo.

On January 9 2007, Angela Cosmillo was home alone caring for her 1 year-old son Joey when he slipped out of the house and fell into the pool. She jumped in, pulled him out and carried him inside, down a hallway and into a bedroom and then called 911. Joey was unconcious and not breathing and she told the 911 operator that she thought he may be dead.

Sgt Andrea Eichhorn, 36, of Chuluota and a 12 year veteren of the police department, was the third rescuer to arrive at the house. She slipped on a puddle in the hallway near where they were performing CPR on Joey. Eichhorn fell down but got up again and had a co-worker take her to an emergency outpatient clinic later that day. Doctors there told her that she had broken her kneecap. The city or it's insurers paid all of her medical bills and in the two months she was out of work, she didn't lose a single day of pay.

It is what Eichhorn chose to do, even though her police chief had advised against it, that outraged people. After spending months trying to get money from the Cosmillo's, she chose to sue them for an undisclosed amount, stating that she felt negligent and allowed their home to become unsafe. Eichhorn saw herself as the victim and stated that her knee aches, it will likely develope arthritis and she feared that she could become a burden to her family.

She filed suit on October 1 2007 and on October 10, the Orlando Sentinel published an article about the suit. The public flooded the police department and city offices with their outrage over the suit. Eichhorn was said to have ben in tears on the day the article appeared and went home. That same day, police Chief John Pavlis placed her on paid leave of absence and called for an internal investigation. Eichhorn then dropped her suit on October 12.

The Cosmillo's had ignored the suit and pleas for a settlement from Eichhorn and with good reason. Richard and Maggie, their grandson's legal guardian, were told that Joey probably wouldn't survive more than a few hours after his arrival in the hospital. For the first two months, Maggie remained at his bedside, never once going home.

Joey, now 23 months old, lives 5 miles away from them now, in a nursing home where he can get 24 a day care. He suffers from severe brain damage, breaths through a tube and is fed by another tube. He can't sit, eat or swallow but he can smile and seems to recognise music now. His grandfather Richard has hopes that he will be able to learn to do even more than that in the future.

Pavlis informed Eichhorn on November 19 that he planned to fire her and removed both her badge and gun then. While he had previously described her as a good officer, he cited that the internal investigation had found that she had broken at least five department rules in filing her lawsuit, including bringing public ridicule to the department. Her lawsuit also could have caused citizens to question whether they too could be sued by officers responding to a 911 call.

Richard Cosmillo stated that she had gotten what she deserved and she wouldn't have lost her job if she hadn't filed the lawsuit. I do have to agree with him....... Eichhorn is worried that she may develope arthritis and become a burden, there is no proof that she will develope it nor will she be anymore of a burden than the thousands of people who suffer from it without slipping on a puddle. As for her leaving work in tears...... what did she really believe people would think of her lawsuit?

The public was correct I believe, to be outraged by the lawsuit, the Cosmillo's are facing huge medical bills and a struggle to give their grandson the best life he can have.... Eichhorn lost not a single dollar for having slipped, fallen and strangely, wasn't injured enough to want immediate medical help, but waited until later in that day to have her knee checked.

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