Voorheesville mother sues Albany County over daughter’s death

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple has been named in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the mother of a Voorheesville woman who alleges Apple’s EMTs and paramedics were unable to perform life-saving procedures on her daughter because they couldn’t find the necessary equipment.

VOORHEESVILLE — The family of a Voorheesville woman is alleging in a lawsuit that she’d still be alive if they’d just driven her to the hospital themselves instead of relying on first responders from the Albany County Sheriff's Office.

The Dec. 8 complaint states that, in the early morning hours of Sept. 9, 2021, Britney Lomio, 27, gestured to her mother, Roberta Princiotto, that she was choking.

The suit describes Lomio as a full-time student at the University of Phoenix in the psychology master’s program.

Princiotto called 9-1-1 at about 1:38 a.m. and, four minutes later, two Emergency Medical Technicians from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the Roxbury Court home, arriving at approximately 1:49 a.m., according to the court filing. 

However, when the EMTs arrived on-scene, “they were unable to locate equipment necessary to perform their emergency medical functions,” court documents state, and Princiotto called 9-1-1 a second time, and paramedics arrived at about 1:59 a.m., but they were “unable to locate essential equipment needed to adequately and properly assess and facilitate the visualization and clearing of BRITNEY LOMIO’S airway.”

Paul DerOhannesian, the attorney for Princiotto, when asked by The Enterprise what type of equipment EMTs were unable to find, would not say. 

On three separate occasions, according to the filing, the claim was made that Lomio’s airway was unobstructed. 

DerOhannesian was asked if Lomio was intubated on-scene.

“I don’t want to get into the care and treatment,” DerOhannesian said. “She was intubated at the hospital, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

Named in the lawsuit are Albany County, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Craig Apple himself, and a number of sheriff’s office employees who responded on Sept. 9. 

Apple did not respond to a request for comment before press time. 

Albany County, in a statement attributed to Deputy County Attorney John Liguori said, “We intend to vigorously defend the matter but have no comment as to the allegations contained in the complaint at this time.”

Lomio was eventually taken to Saint Peter’s Hospital in Albany, arriving at approximately 3:13 a.m., at which time a physician was located who “removed a foreign object from BRITNEY LOMIO’S airway,” according to the complaint, which also asserts the delay in transporting Lomio to Saint Peter’s Hospital was a substantial factor in her death.

Lomio “suffered irreversible brain damage,” slipped into a coma, and died on Sept. 9, 2021, the filing states, “as a result of an airway obstruction due to a foreign object.” 

The filing states Princiotto claimed she was detained and restrained while her home was searched “without reasonable suspicion, articulable suspicion or probable cause ….” And said Princiotto also reserved the right to rely on circumstantial evidence to establish the sheriff’s department’s negligence. 

“While seeking to provide care and treatment for her daughter and being detained by Defendants,” Princiotto, the suit says, “was constitutionally entitled to be free from violation of her bodily integrity and to be free from assault and battery, excessive force, unreasonable searches and reckless disregard for serious medical needs of her daughter ….”

Unnamed county employees — the suit calls them “John Does” —  intentionally stood in the stairway between Lomio and Princiotto, “blocking the mother’s access to and vision of her daughter,” the suit says.

A John Doe, the suit says, placed his “hands on her to prevent her from going downstairs where her daughter was located” and further alleges that Princiotto “was aware and conscious of the confinement.”

As for damages, DerOhannesian told The Enterprise, “We haven’t put a dollar amount on this, and it’s premature to do so.”

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