Local News

Chapel Hill player's family files wrongful death suit

Posted June 1, 2009
Updated February 6, 2010

— The family of a Chapel Hill high school football player who died in August 2008 has filed a wrongful death suit against the paramedic who treated him, Orange County Emergency Services and Orange County, the family lawyer said Saturday.

Atlas Fraley, 17, a senior offensive guard and defensive tackle, participated in an Aug. 12, 2008, scrimmage at Middle Creek High in Apex. He called 911 at 1:46 p.m., complaining of cramps and dehydration and asking for intravenous fluids. Paramedic James Griffin treated and discharged Fraley by 2:10 p.m. His parents found him unresponsive in their home that evening.

An autopsy report did not list a definite cause of death, but said Fraley had a history of cramping and similar symptoms, which could have combined with dehydration to result in a "fatal cardiac event or even an acute asthmatic attack."

In their suit, Fraley's parents allege that Griffin provided inadequate care for their son, violated 13 EMS protocols for his medical condition and did not attempt to contact them before leaving him home alone.

"Atlas Fraley's death was a direct and proximate result of the negligence of (Griffin)," the suit says. "Had (Griffin) properly evaluated, treated and transported Atlas Fraley to a hospital, he more than likely than not would have survived."

State officials found no reason to revoke Griffin's paramedic credentials, but Orange County EMS determined that he violated protocol and revoked his privileges in the county. Griffin resigned five days later, after nearly nine years with the agency.

The suit cites Orange County EMS' report to allege that Griffin violated protocol for hyperthermia treatment, for example, by not taking the teen's vitals, referring him to a physician or transporting him, and not talking to his parents. Griffin also assented to the advice of a medical student observer that Fraley didn't need an IV, the suit says.

According to the patient report filed by Griffin, he found that Fraley had a normal pulse and blood pressure, but his cramping prevented taking a heart monitor reading. Griffin wrote that he advised the teen to keep drinking fluids and that when he couldn't reach his parents, he had the teen sign a discharge form. The form doesn't state if Fraley refused to be taken to a hospital.

However, there aren't records of calls from Griffin's phone to either Fraley's father's cell phone or his mother's office number, which Griffin wrote that he called, the suit says. Orange County EMS hasn't provided records for the agency cell phone Griffin used, the suit says.

"Had defendant Griffin contacted either of Atlas Fraley's parents, they would not have permitted defendant Griffin to leave their minor son alone at home with an unresolved medical emergency," the suit reads.

Fraley's parents are asking a jury to award them monetary damages for medical and funeral expenses, Fraley's pain and suffering, and the loss of their son's companionship and services.


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  • Here We Go Again Feb 8, 2010

    Actually this lawsuit is going to be pretty bad. Reading the court documents, they have decided to pursue this as "wrongful death" instead of "medical negligence" which means this could open up a whole new category of problems for those of us still "practicing medicine" on the streets. Hopefully the courts will kick this back. If they don't, then no malpractice insurance will cover it and this paramedic will have to rely on general liability, if he has any. Not to mention they set precedent by stating paramedics are not medical personnel...now that just takes the cake!!! Who you gonna call at 3AM for help if we aren't "Medical Professionals"? JOKE!!!

  • JustaCitizen Feb 8, 2010

    CHA CHING $$$$$$$$$$

  • ECU4lyf Feb 8, 2010

    why don't this surprise me? what does surprise me is how long it took them to do it

  • blueliner Feb 8, 2010

    Wow what a shocker...trying to get money as if that's going to bring their son back. Being a civil matter, any damages awarded will not prevent this medic from working anywhere else. Using the addage, "we're suing him so he can't do this to anyone else" just doesn't fly here...greedy....