Suit alleging Windstream responsible for death moves to federal court

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By Calen McKinney

A Campbellsville woman's lawsuit alleging Windstream is responsible for her husband's death will now be battled in federal court.

On behalf of Judith Hastings of Campbellsville, Louisville attorney Ann Oldfather filed a complaint in Taylor Circuit Court on Dec. 26.

The lawsuit claims that Windstream, the defendant in the case, routed a 911 call to Lexington instead of Campbellsville asking for help after Mrs. Hastings' husband, Dr. Robert Hastings, fell and was injured. Since the call went to Lexington, which is about 80 miles from Campbellsville, Mrs. Hastings claims there was a substantial delay before any emergency personnel arrived to help her husband.

Windstream denies any wrongdoing and has said it no longer routes emergency calls in Taylor County, and hasn't since 2010.

Last week, notice was filed that the case has been removed from Taylor Circuit Court and will now be heard in United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. All hearings in the case will be in Bowling Green.

Federal court records state that the defendants asked for the case to be taken to the federal court level because it involves a personal injury claim.

According to the complaint, Dr. Hastings died on Dec. 25, 2012. At that time, Windstream provided phone and Internet service to Dr. and Mrs. Hastings' home in Campbellsville.

On Dec. 21, 2012, the complaint states, Dr. Hastings fell outside his home and suffered head trauma. Mrs. Hastings found her husband, alive, outside where he had fallen. The family members at home at the time called 911 from their landline telephone for help.

Mrs. Hastings claims that the 911 call wasn't routed to Campbellsville, which is the nearest place to her home from which emergency services personnel respond, but instead was routed by Windstream to Lexington.

The complaint doesn't state how long it took emergency services personnel to arrive at the Hastings home.

Mrs. Hastings is asking that she receive punitive damages, medical and funeral expenses and compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and losing her husband's companionship.

Lexington attorney Daniel E. Murner filed an answer to Mrs. Hastings' claim on Windstream's behalf. In the answer, Windstream denies any wrongdoing and asks that the claim be dismissed.

According to the answer, Windstream admits to providing phone and Internet service for Dr. and Mrs. Hastings. However, pursuant to a written request from officials at Campbellsville/Taylor County E-911 Center, Windstream stopped routing 911 calls for Taylor County in November 2010.

The E-911 center, according to the answer, chose to participate in the Central Kentucky 911 Network established by Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, which is supported by Contact One and AK Associates. Because of the E-911 center's participation in the network, the answer states, Central Kentucky 911 Network began routing emergency calls from landlines in Taylor County.

Dr. Hastings, 67, died at the University of Louisville Neuro ICU. According to his obituary, he was a practicing oral surgeon for 40 years.

According to federal court records, Chief Justice Joseph H. McKinley will hear Mrs. Hastings' case. A scheduling conference has been set for March 11.