BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Relatives of a man whose body was used by the Bellingham Fire Department for intubation practice have filed claims against the city totaling more than $15 million, a newspaper reported. Eleven fire department employees - including two office workers - acknowledged practicing inserting and removing breathing tubes on the body of Bradley Ginn Sr. while waiting for it to be transported to a funeral home on July 31, The Bellingham Herald reported.
A review by a Seattle attorney determined it had been an accepted practice for department paramedics to meet certification requirements by practicing on patients who had just died, the newspaper said.
The fire department said in October that such "tube checks" were not to be performed without the consent of the patient's next-of-kin.
"This is unheard of and this incident that took place was completely unacceptable," Bellingham Fire Chief Bill Newbold told CBS affiliate KIRO-TV in September. "The focus on training surpassed the other red flags that should have been there."
Newbold told KIRO several firefighters seemed concerned about the training, which typically only happens in the field, in the hospital or on a mannequin.
"We're going to work to put measures in place to ensure the public's trust and to make sure this doesn't happen again," Newbold said.
Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville declined to comment on the litigation.
Twelve employees were disciplined. One paramedic was suspended for a week without pay. A captain with nearly three decades of experience with the department retired rather than face demotion, and a division chief resigned, the department said.
The state Department of Health is investigating the nine members of the department who participated and were credentialed health care providers.
Records from the Bellingham City Attorney's Office show that Ginn's wife, Jai Ginn, filed a $15 million claim for damages on Oct. 4, saying she had suffered physical and mental pain from the "intentional and negligent care of a body and abuse by city of Bellingham employees."
She also made claims for the unauthorized invasion and desecration of a dead body and possible wrongful death.
One of the claims was filed by Bradley Ginn Jr. and seeks $200,000, the records show. Ginn Jr.'s lawyer said the intubations took place as family members were trying to locate Ginn Sr.'s body.
Ginn Sr. had a do-not-resuscitate directive, which prohibited the use of invasive procedures such as intubation, the records state.