City of Billings Sued for Lack of Response and AED in Case of Sudden Death of Swimmer at Community Pool

City of Billings Sued for Lack of Response and AED in Case of Sudden Death of Swimmer at Community Pool

BILLINGS, MT--The family of a Billings man who died of a heart attack during an outing at Rose Park pool is suing the city of Billings for failing to provide for the safety of pool users.

Bart Bieber, then 41, died on July 24, 2011, during a visit to the pool with his wife, Therese, and their three minor children. The lawsuit was filed April 12 by Billings attorney John Heenan on behalf of Therese Bieber and her children.

The suit says Bart Bieber was in good physical shape and had never suffered heart trauma, but when he emerged from the Rose Park pool on July 24, “he was in sudden ventricular fibrillation.”

An off-duty firefighter and Therese Bieber, who is a nurse at Billings Clinic, began administering CPR to Bieber, the suit says, but no lifeguard or other pool employee called 911 to ask for medical assistance.

“Finally, after over 10 agonizing minutes of Bart laying by the side of the pool dying,” the suit says, “a bystander called to report the incident.” Emergency responders arrived within three minutes, but it was too late, and Bieber was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The suit says the city of Billings’ “duty to maintain Rose Park in a safe manner” included having an automated external defibrillator available.

“It is well-known amongst swim facility owners and operators that diving into, swimming in, or exiting swimming pools can cause sudden cardiac arrest,” the suit says.

It also says the city had the obligation to instruct its lifeguards and other employees to call 911 immediately if anyone at the pool went into cardiac arrest.

“Therese Bieber and her children all watched as Bart died slowly before their eyes,” the suit continues. “Witnessing their husband/father die in this fashion caused them to suffer emotional distress for which they have received, and continue to each receive, professional treatment.”

The suit asks for a jury trial and seeks unspecified damages, including the value of Bieber’s lost earnings; medical, funeral and burial expenses; and wrongful death damages.

City Attorney Brent Brooks said the city’s insurance carrier has retained Harlan Krogh to defend the city in the case. Brooks said the city’s initial response to the lawsuit is due by May 9.

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