Seattle settles lawsuit over 911 'blacklist'
William Yurek died in 2021, even after his 13-year-old son called 911 twice to get him emergency help. Medics arrived but were told to wait for a police escort before entering the home.
The address had been flagged as dangerous, but that was because of a previous tenant.
Now, the City of Seattle is going to pay more than $1.8 million to Yurek's family.
"The family had no idea about this list. I had no idea about this list. It was only through the filing of this lawsuit that we became aware of the list," the family's attorney Mark Lindquist told KUOW. "When you're keeping a list people's lives depend upon, it needs to be accurate and up to date. This list was not."
The "blacklist" — or "caution notes" — with Yurek's address flagged people who were hostile to first responders.
Lindquist said the city failed to update that list, leaving medics to wait outside for backup. After Yurek's son called a second time, they decided to break that protocol. They went inside with an escort and tried to save Yurek, according to Lindquist. It was too late, though, and Yurek died from cardiac arrest.
Yurek was in recovery for addiction at the time of his death. According to Lindquist, experts believed he would have had a 25% chance of survival if medics had not been delayed, though the city argued his chance of survival was lower.
In any case, the city has made efforts to better maintain the "caution notes" since Yurek's death — and his family's lawsuit.
"No amount of money can fully compensate for this kind of loss, obviously. But the family is pleased with the settlement," Lindquist said. "The family wanted justice. They wanted accountability. And they wanted the city to fix this problem, so it doesn't happen to anyone else. We've achieved all that."
And, Lindquist added, Yurek's son who called for help wants to go to law school.
"Now, he won't have to worry about paying for it," he said.