Pubdate: Wed, 05 Aug 2015
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2015 Albuquerque Journal
Author: T.S. Last
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)


State Among 10 Defendants Named in Wrongful Death Complaint

SANTA FE - Just shy of the second anniversary of the death of Hannah 
Bruch, a 14-year-old Santa Fe girl who died after ingesting a 
hallucinogenic drug while attending a rave concert at Expo New 
Mexico, a lawsuit alleging negligence was filed against 10 defendants 
in Santa Fe District Court on Monday.

In the wrongful death complaint filed by a representative of Hannah 
Bruch's estate, the defendants are listed as the state of New Mexico, 
three companies that co-promoted the event, two security companies, 
an ambulance company, a hospital, and two paramedics who provided 
emergency medical care at the show.

The show was billed as "Foam Wonderland" and, according to the court 
filing, included a foam bubble solution fired from a cannon onto 
partygoers while "lightning-like lasers" flashed and live performers 
played electronic dance party music.

"The promoters' tagline for the five-hour-long rave was 'Will you 
survive the storm?' " the lawsuit filed in state District Court in 
Santa Fe says. "Tragically for Hannah, the answer was no."

It goes on to say that the defendants' "inexcusably reckless 
judgment, carelessness and negligence contributed to Hannah's death."

Steve Segura, owner of Redfish Entertainment, one of three promoters 
of the show, said Tuesday that he was surprised to learn of the 
lawsuit when contacted by a reporter. Although he said he felt bad 
for the family, he was "offended" that his company was being accused 
of negligence.

"We definitely went above and beyond what was normal procedure. We 
had more security, more State Police, and more EMTs," he said.

Erin Thompson, a spokeswoman for Expo New Mexico, also hadn't seen 
the lawsuit, but provided a statement saying, "On the evening of the 
event, our security staff at EXPO New Mexico recognized that Hannah 
was in medical distress, and took quick action to ensure she received 
immediate, on-site medical attention. We remain deeply saddened for 
the tragic loss of such a young life."

The lawsuit says that on a night when State Fair resources were 
stretched because two other events were being held at the site at the 
same time, "Expo New Mexico allowed a crowd of thousands - including 
under-aged children - to attend a drug-fueled dance party at the 
State Fairgrounds."

According to State Police reports, Bruch and two friends purchased 
the drug MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or Molly, in Rio Rancho before 
the show. Bruch took five "hits" of the drug in crystalline form, 
typically called "shards," while her friends took lesser amounts.

Promotional material and online ticket receipts for Foam Wonderland 
said the event was restricted to ages 16 and over, but security 
officers did not ask for identification, the lawsuit says.

Alcohol was for sale in a beer garden. Shortly after Bruch's death, 
Expo New Mexico announced it would stop holding similar concerts open 
to all ages and suspended electronic music shows. Expo's Thompson 
said Tuesday that all-ages electronic dance music shows are still not allowed.

About an hour into the 2013 show, Bruch started feeling adverse 
effects from the drug. Overheated and extremely thirsty, Burch was 
taken aside by her friends who tried to comfort her.

"Hannah was in serious distress when security personnel happened upon 
her, but, tragically for Hannah, those security personnel - lacking 
the appropriate training for the circumstances - failed to handle her 
condition properly," the lawsuit says. Personnel from Securitas 
Security Services were on patrol at the concert. An employee who 
answered the phone at Securitas' Albuquerque office Tuesday evening 
told a reporter to call back today.

The lawsuit says, "When security personnel finally accompanied Hannah 
to the on-site medical area, emergency medical technicians ('EMTs') 
were ill-prepared to respond to Hannah's condition."

The suit says that the EMTs "made no attempt to meaningfully assess 
her condition or provide her with care," instead deciding she was 
just "trippin'."

The lawsuit claims that medical personnel failed to diagnose and 
treat Burch, didn't take her vital signs when it was evident she was 
ill, and made her wait 15 minutes while EMTs attended to someone else 
before she was taken by Albuquerque Ambulance Service to University 
of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead a few minutes 
after midnight on Aug. 11, 2013. The ambulance crew couldn't place an 
IV into Hannah, the suit says.

An autopsy determined that the cause of death was "Drug (MDMA) intoxication."

Larry Bruch, the girl's father, told the Journal a month later that 
text messages found by police showed his daughter had a history of drug use.

The lawsuit, filed by estate representative Justin Kaufman, a Santa 
Fe lawyer, seeks compensatory damages and punitive damages, including 
funeral expenses and costs associated with bringing the case.

Eric Stone of Rio Rancho, who admitted to selling Bruch and her two 
friends the drug, took a plea deal in March that ensures he will 
spend no more than three years in prison. He was facing a sentence of 
up to 28 years on charges of three second-degree felony counts of 
selling drugs to minors.
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