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Appeals Court Decides 'Very Difficult And Tragic' Kyle Plush Case Goes Forward

Courtesy of the Plush Family
Kyle Plush died after going back to his minivan to get tennis equipment for a match. The backseat unexpectedly folded up, pinning him against the back door.

In October, attorneys for the family of Kyle Plush hoped to convince a Hamilton County appeals court to let a lawsuitagainst the city of Cincinnati, police, dispatchers and a former city manager move forward. On Wednesday, judges said the city is immune in the case of the Seven Hills teen who suffocated in his car, but claims against the others can proceed. 

Cincinnati had appealed after Hamilton County Judge Robert Ruehlman refused to dismiss the case. Ruehlman ruled January 22 saying, "...this court finds that there are a set of facts presented that may allow for relief for the plaintiff."

Plaintiff's attorney Al Gerhardstein had asked to hold the city, dispatchers Amber Smith and Stephanie Magee, police officers Edsel Osborn and Brian Brazile and former City Manager Harry Black responsible for their actions on April 10, 2018, the day Kyle Plush died in his minivan after calling 911 twice

Gerhardstein has called the events "a huge combination of outrageous errors."

During the October hearing, he asked the judges to affirm the trial court, denying a motion to dismiss the case. "So that there can be full discovery," he said. "We can learn every detail about what happened to their son and we can let a jury decide whether Kyle's cries for help were met with recklessness or wanton responses."

Judge Pierre Bergeron at the time called it a "very difficult and tragic case." 

Of Wednesday's decision, the city Solicitor's Office wrote, "Today's decision is not a final decision regarding liability in this case. The Solicitor's Office will determine the next steps of the defense. It remains true that the city will continue to defend and indemnify the employees named in the lawsuit."

The case now returns to Judge Ruehlman.

Plush called 911 twice on April 10, 2018 seeking help. But a series of failures described by consultants as a "perfect storm" meant responding officers were never able to locate him. His father, Ron, found him about six hours after the first 911 call was made.

In one phone call, Kyle asks dispatchers to tell his mom he loves her if he dies. 

This story was first published Oct. 20 and has been updated.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.