Lawsuit revived against Southfield paramedics who falsely declared woman dead

Four first responders in Southfield may stand trial in a civil case involving a woman who was pronounced dead when she was still alive.

Timesha Beauchamp, who had cerebral palsy, was struggling to breathe when her family called 911 in August 2020. 

The medical crew that arrived at the scene tried to resuscitate her for about 30 minutes before ultimately calling a doctor at Providence Hospital, who declared the 20-year-old dead without going to the home, Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee previously said in 2020.

Beauchamp was never taken to a hospital.

"They followed the medical procedures," Menifee said. "We left her in care of the family to call the funeral home of their choosing."

Later that day, employees at the James H. Cole Home for Funerals in Detroit unzipped the body bag and found Beauchamp had her eyes open

"In the funeral home, they unzipped the bag, take the sheet off, (and) her eyes are open, she's gasping for air," said the attorney representing Beauchamp's family, Jennifer Damico with Fieger Law. "It's horrific."

Beauchamp was rushed to a hospital but died two months later.

Timesha Beauchamp (Provided by Fieger Law)

"She was a nice girl – very joyous, fun to be around," Damico said. "But she definitely had problems."

The 20-year-old needed full-time care from her mother for her cerebral palsy. 

Beauchamp’s family accused the medical crew who falsely declared her dead in 2020 of gross negligence. Oakland County Judge Nanci Grant dismissed the lawsuit, saying the Southfield employees had governmental immunity.

However, last week, a Michigan appeals court revived a lawsuit against the Southfield paramedics and EMTs.

A judge was wrong to dismiss the lawsuit in favor of the Southfield medical crew before the parties could conduct interviews and gather other evidence, a process known as discovery, the court said in a 3-0 opinion Thursday.

The family is seeking damages.

"Once your brain loses its oxygen, then your body becomes acidic, everything just (stops) – kidney failure, liver failure, the whole system," Damico told FOX 2. Beauchamp's mother said "she wants closure, she wants justice, (and) she wants to move on."

The lawsuit will now return to Oakland County court.

Southfield fire does not comment on pending litigation. Fieger Law estimates the case will go to trial in about a year. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Woman falsely declared dead by Southfield paramedics this summer has died

Timesha Beauchamp, a 20-year-old woman who was falsely declared dead in August 2020 by Southfield EMS paramedics has died in the hospital.