Roy Ortiz, an illegal immigrant, is suing the firefighters who saved his life. An attorney for Ortiz recently filed court documents related to the incident which occurred last September. His client was trapped in his car during a flash flood on US 287 in Colorado.
The Ortiz lawsuit names first responders from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Westminster dive team, as well as North Metro Fire Rescue District firefighters. On September 12, a vehicle driven by Roy Ortiz flipped upside down after being washed off the roadway by rushing flood waters.
According to court documents, it took the firefighters about two hours to rescue Ortiz. The man is now claiming that the North Metro Fire Rescue District was negligent in their duties because he “should” have been extracted from his car more quickly.
Ed Ferszt, Roy Ortiz’s attorney, had this to say about the firefighter lawsuit during an interview with 7 News Denver:
“Of course he was thankful because those divers did have a major role to play in saving his life that day. That doesn’t negate the fact that a mistake may have been made. I can understand why there’s a lot of furor over people thinking that he’s biting the hand that feeds. Does that mean that officers of North Metro Fire are above reproach? Well, well let’s talk for a second about the divers. If divers went into the water in an attempt to locate Roy and they didn’t see him there, as dangerous a job that it is — and we are thankful for first responders, that was a mistake. And the legal term for that mistake is negligence.”
Ortiz claims that he still suffers from shoulder pain and is seeking $500,000 in damages. The fact that the flood victim is an illegal immigrant has become a major part of the highly controversial lawsuit. During an interview with Gretchen Carlon on Fox News, Ed Ferszt became visibly irritated when Carlson posed a question about Ortiz’s residency status. After several minutes of banter where the attorney repeatedly insisted that even if his client is in the United States illegally, it has no bearing on the lawsuit. Carlson, realizing she would not get a straight answer to her question, told the audience that during a commercial break the attorney stated that Ortiz had indeed broken the law and crossed the border illegally into America. Ferszt did not correct Carlson after she made the statement.
Those who support the first responders who risked their own lives to save Roy Ortiz have asked if the flood victim will be arrested for breaking federal law. Why is Ortiz suing the firefighters who rescued him from probable death? “Well, I’m happy. I’m really happy to be alive. But, I’m looking for some help with my bills. I don’t have the money to pay,” he said.
If successful, the Colorado first responders lawsuit could set a dangerous and expensive precedent, allowing other accident victims to claim medics, police officers, and firefighters should have responded more quickly or cut them free from crushed metal with the jaws of life sooner, therefore they are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars for pain and suffering.