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Legal Roundtable tackles St. Louis’ 911 woes: ‘They’re not running it’

The site where a woman died after a tree fell on her car during violent storms on July 1 on Chouteau Avenue in The Grove.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The site where a woman died after a tree fell on her car during violent storms early this month in an alley behind the 4100 block of Chouteau Avenue in The Grove.

St. Louis on the Air’s Legal Roundtable convened Friday to address the biggest legal developments in the region. Hosted by Sarah Fenske, the discussion touched on a recent lawsuit targeting St. Louis’ ailing 911 system.

The lawsuit was filed July 11 by the widow of a 36-year-old father who accidentally shot himself and died of blood loss while waiting for 911 to respond. The wrongful death claim seeks unspecified damage from the city.

Attorney Sarah Swatosh, who specializes in labor and employment law, believes the woman has a strong case. For years, St. Louis has publicly struggled to stabilize its emergency response system. On July 1, in a separate incident, a 33-year-old woman was fatally crushed by a tree that fell on her car. Multiple calls to 911 went unanswered, St. Louis Public Radio reported.

"The city has accepted the duty to run this program, and they're not running it," Swatosh said. "I think there is liability here. … I think there is malfeasance here. I think there is negligence here."

Swatosh was joined by attorneys Mark Smith, a former associate vice chancellor and dean at Washington University, and Eric Banks, a former city counselor for the City of St. Louis. Along with St. Louis’ 911 woes, they discussed the cases of a $6.1 million settlement issued to a former guidance counselor, a major ruling in the ongoing defamation lawsuit against The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft and more.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Ulaa Kuziez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."