Patterico's Pontifications

12/5/2007

Police Sergeant that Sued Joey Cosmillo’s Family has been Fired

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 12:25 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

In mid-October I posted on Joey Cosmillo, the 1-year-old boy who almost drowned in his grandparents’ pool but was left brain-damaged, unable to walk, talk or swallow. His family was sued by Police Sergeant Andrea Eichhorn, who claimed the family was negligent because there was water on the floor from Joey’s rescue that caused her to slip and break her knee.

Eichhorn subsequently dismissed her lawsuit but the police chief has now fired her:

“Casselberry authorities say a police sergeant has been fired for suing a family after she slipped and fell while trying to rescue a 1-year-old boy from drowning. Casselberry Police Chief John Pavlis fired Sergeant Andrea Eichhorn on Tuesday.

Eichhorn has dropped her negligence lawsuit. It claimed there was water on the floor at Joey Cosmillo’s home when police arrived. Eichhorn claimed she broke her knee and missed two months of work after she slid on the wet floor.

The boy suffered brain damage and can no longer walk, talk or swallow. He lives in a nursing home and eats and breathes through tubes.

Eichhorn can appeal her firing. Pavlis said the lawsuit brought public ridicule to the agency and damaged its reputation.

I think Chief Pavlis is right that this case hurt the department’s reputation. I hate to see someone lose their job so I would have preferred it if Eichhorn had issued a public apology to Joey’s family. However, if she did that, I have not seen it reported.

— DRJ

14 Responses to “Police Sergeant that Sued Joey Cosmillo’s Family has been Fired”

  1. First the pants-suit judge, and now this. It appears that filing what many would consider to be a frivilous lawsuit may not be a wise career move.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  2. She definitely deserved to be fired for a variety of reasons:

    1. The stated reason.
    2. Anyone with judgement that poor should NOT be a police officer.
    3. The lawsuit idiocy almost certainly caused negative public perception of ALL of the Casselberry Police and probably made the jobs of other officers more dangerous.

    I’m sure other, smarter commenters can think of even more reasons why this woman should have been fired.

    Chris Farley (6a96d1)

  3. aunursa: “It appears that filing what many would consider to be a frivilous lawsuit may not be a wise career move.”

    And looking at what’s happening to Yagman and Scruggs, filing hundreds of them might no longer be the wise career move it once was.

    Pity that the doctrine of assumption of risk is a dead letter. You can see why it would offend the Bar, though: it’s rooted in common sense.

    Kevin R.C. O'Brien (8acbe1)

  4. DRJ, in my experience, lawsuits such as this are not filed for frivolous reasons, but because the person’s lacks or has inadequate medical and/or disability insurance and has only recourse to the homeowners liability policy to get reimbursed for expenses they have incurred.

    According to your prior report, “While she was on medical leave, …the city’s insurer paid her medical bills and provided disability checks.”
    Her attorney said those benefits were not enough, however.

    I’d be interested to know what the suit said about why they weren’t enough before I condemned this officer. I’m sure a good officer, as her chief described her, and a 12 year veteran had any desire to sue this family. It was probably her last resort. Did worker’s comp not pay all her expenses, does she expect ongoing expenses that her department will not pay for. What’s her side of the story?

    JayHub (0a6237)

  5. I offer a bet of 5 chalupas that she sues her P.D. for wrongful termination.

    TomHynes (6c3e12)

  6. JayHub,

    The problem with Eichhorn’s lawsuit was that the homeowners were not negligent to have water on the floor during a drowning rescue. Thus, Eichhorn based her suit on a claim that the homeowners were negligent in not preventing the event from happening to begin with. Do you really think a police officer like Eichhorn was among the class of people the negligence laws were intended to protect in this situation? I don’t.

    It might be different if the homeowners’ conduct was intentional or grossly negligent, but I think it was frivolous to sue under a simple negligence theory. Why not sue every person who carelessly runs a red light and causes an accident if police injuries result from the investigation or response?

    As for Eichhorn’s expenses, I can only go by the report that she was fully compensated. As I recall the reports, she was claiming compensation for future damages due to anticipated knee problems as she aged. If it turns out she was not fully compensated, I’m sure there are other resources to look to than the homeowners’ insurance of the people she was sworn to protect and serve.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  7. Tom, I don’t think anyone will take that bet, not even for 10 chalupas.

    JayHub (0a6237)

  8. More on the firing from the Orlando Sentinel:

    “Eichhorn sued because she was afraid she might wind up disabled, the city’s insurer might reject her claims or that she would become a burden to her family, she told the department.

    She and her attorney, David Heil, had tried for months to get money from the Cosmillos, but the family had ignored her claim, so on Oct. 1 she filed suit in state circuit court in Sanford, accusing the family of negligence.

    The Orlando Sentinel published an article Oct. 10, and the outcry was immediate. The police department and city offices were inundated during the next several days with calls and e-mail from people outraged by the suit.

    Judi Romboli, executive assistant to Casselberry’s city manager, told Mellon that in her 14 years on the job, she had never had to deal with anything like it.

    “No, nothing. This was the worst,” she said.

    Eichhorn was in tears and went home sick the day the article appeared, according to the investigative report. She stayed home the next day.

    That same day, Pavlis placed her on a paid leave of absence and called for the internal investigation. Mellon completed it three weeks ago, concluding Eichhorn had violated several department policies, including damaging the department’s image and filing suit without giving the police chief advance written notice.

    On Nov. 19, Pavlis took away her badge and weapon, telling her he intended to fire her. She asked for a review and got it, but it did no good. On Tuesday, Pavlis fired her.”

    Sgt. Eichhorn did not have a perfect record it seems and one blogger in Florida writes:

    “I’m betting Eichhorn’s other deeds were behind the firing. Casselberry is trying to cover their a** before the other problems become public knowledge too. Thank God for blogs and newspaper comment sections, eh?”

    http://thefloridamasochist.blogspot.com/

    JayHub (0a6237)

  9. I hate to see someone lose their job

    Being a cop isn’t an ordinary job. If she can’t do it, fire her ass and bring in someone who can.

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  10. Eichhorn sued because she was afraid she might wind up disabled, the city’s insurer might reject her claims or that she would become a burden to her family, she told the department.

    OK, so you left off pursuing a slam-dunk worker’s comp claim to pursue this pie-in-the-sky madness? What the hell? How bad must her worker’s comp attorney be that she’s afraid of not having her future disability taken into account?

    Linus (a987d9)

  11. Unfortunately it wasn’t that “pie-in-the-sky”, it had a good chance of succeeding in our screwed-up tort system.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  12. I think most people are forgetting the lawyer in this deal. The article said “She and her attorney, David Heil, had tried for months to get money from the Cosmillos. So first the cop and lawyer try to extort money from the victims of this debacle, then they sue them in court. Eichhorn had to find some lawyer with no conscience to pursue such a frivolous case. How can an attorney condone such an action, let alone pursue such a charade in our court systems. The Cosmillos are the victims all around here and they should be the ones suing the cop and her attorney for the pain and emotional trauma they were put through.

    B. Spearman (669dec)

  13. #8: Eichhorn was in tears and went home sick the day the article appeared, according to the investigative report. She stayed home the next day.

    Sounds like she wasn’t much use as a cop anyway. “You go on the call, I’m going to sit here and have a good cry.”

    #12: Eichhorn had to find some lawyer with no conscience to pursue such a frivolous case.

    Not a hard thing to do. They advertise.

    Kevin R.C. O'Brien (b2be7e)

  14. Eichhorn’s slip-and-fall incident sounds like an accident to me. Could have happened with or without the water. She definitely deserved getting fired and ridicule for making such an idiotic claim.

    Ted (2ba014)


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