The father of a Long Beach Little Leaguer who died in April after suffering an epileptic seizure while running to first base has filed a notice of claim against Hempstead Town and other municipal entities, alleging the park and ambulance treating his son failed to provide equipment that could have saved his life.
Lazar LaPenna died on April 29, just two days after his tenth birthday, after suffering the seizure during a Little League Baseball game at Point Lookout Park in Point Lookout.
His father, Gregg LaPenna, filed a notice of claim saying he intends to seek $10 million in damages in a lawsuit contending that the failure of the defendants to keep a functioning Automated External Defibirillator or other “legally required medical equipment present at the park” led to the boy's death. A defibrillator is used to revive someone from cardiac arrest.
Evan E. Richards, of Bellmore-based Baker, Greenspan & Bernstein, the attorney representing LaPenna, said if the Town of Hempstead, which owns and operates the park, had a defibrillator on hand, “Lazar would still be alive today.” Richards cited New York Public Health Law and others that require a place of public assembly to keep such equipment.
He noted that the field has a shed, which “could have easily” stored medical equipment, and at the time of Lazar’s seizure some coaches, who are firefighters, could have administered the defibrillator.
The notice of claim says the defendants are negligent in their "failure to properly train staff members in the use, maintenance, and testing of AEDs; [and] the failure of the arriving Fire Department ambulance to have an Automated External Defibrillator ("AED") and/or other legally required medical equipment."
Richards told Newsday: "No amount of money can return Lazar to his family, but the LaPenna family is entitled to justice for the wrongful death of their son...Gregg also wants to make sure that every baseball field and other types of stadiums and fields have defibrillators moving forward as required by New York law.”
“Nobody should die in a government-owned place of public assembly because the government failed to have a defibrillator and this should never happen again to any family,” Richards said.
The notice of claim, filed July 25, names Hempstead Town, Richards said, but it was also sent to the Point Lookout-Lido Volunteer Fire Department, Nassau County and the City of Long Beach. A lawsuit will likely be filed in state Supreme Court in Mineola, he said.
A notice of claim against a municipality must be served before a lawsuit is filed.
William Wade, chief of the Point Lookout-Lido Volunteer Fire Department, declined to comment. Hempstead Town spokesman Greg Blower said, "The town does not comment on ongoing litigation.” Long Beach and county officials said they would not comment on pending litigation.