Family sues Hopkins APL after fatal bee sting Relatives accuse laboratory of failing to take precautions against insects

November 14, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

The family of a Jessup man who died from an allergic reaction to a bee sting while working at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory is suing the facility for $3 million in damages.

Relatives of Duffie Fernandes Sr. say in the suit that laboratory officials were negligent in permitting a long-standing bee infestation to pose a threat at the Columbia research laboratory.

Mr. Fernandes was a painting contractor for Butler Services Group of Baltimore when he was stung on July 3, the suit says.

He died after going into shock andsuffering cardiac arrest, the suit says.

Mr. Fernandes, 49, didn't know he was allergic to bee stings before the incident occurred, according to the suit.

APL officials did not return telephone calls to their offices.

The suit was filed in Howard Circuit Court Oct. 21 on behalf of Mr. Fernandes' daughters, Glenna Fernandes of Baltimore and Robin Fernandes of Yorktown, Va. A third daughter, Tina Ellison, who represents Mr. Fernandes' estate, also is listed as a plaintiff, but the suit does not include her address.

The suit says laboratory officials had the duty to take precautions to avoid exposing Mr. Fernandes to an "unreasonable danger" posed by the bees at the facility or to warn him of such a danger.

The laboratory "failed to take such reasonable precautions as would have protected Mr. Fernandes from this life-threatening situation," the suit says.

After being stung, Mr. Fernandes began to show an allergic reaction and immediately was taken to the laboratory's fire station for treatment, the suit says.

However, the station was not stocked with medication that could have counteracted the allergic reaction, the suit says. The laboratory's health station -- which had the medication -- is closed and locked on weekends.

The suit also says laboratory officials failed to establish standing orders that would have required employees to get Mr. Fernandes to a hospital for treatment.

The Fernandes family has requested a jury trial for the suit. The case has been assigned to Judge Cornelius Sybert Jr., but no proceedings have been scheduled.

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