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DC fire department sued over man's death

Wednesday - 7/3/2013, 6:58pm  ET

D.C.'s Deputy Mayor Paul Quander released the following statement: "I can't comment on pending litigation. However, we should keep in mind that more than 100 D.C. Fire/EMS personnel called in sick that night -- on New Year's Eve, which is a time when first responders are traditionally very busy. Thankfully, we initiated proper protocol by using mutual aid and called on Prince George's County Fire for help."

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Relatives of a man who died while waiting for an ambulance in the District of Columbia on a day when dozens of firefighters called in sick have filed a $12 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city's Fire and EMS Department.

Durand Ford Sr. died on Jan. 1. The complaint filed Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court says Ford experienced shortness of breath, and his girlfriend called 911. It says an ambulance from neighboring Prince George's County in Maryland arrived 30 to 40 minutes later. The complaint says the emergency responders were too late to assist him, and he died.

Around 90 firefighters called in sick last New Year's Eve. Fire department officials said the absences left the department dangerously understaffed. The firefighters' union denies there was a coordinated sick-out.

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