Mother Files Lawsuit, Says Bureaucracy Led To Son’s Death
DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver mother is blaming government bureaucracy and a lack of caring for the death of her 9-year-old boy.
Zuton Lucero’s attorney filed a civil rights complaint in district court this week against the city of Denver over the 2009 death of her son Zumante.
Zumante died on July 20, 2009, after a severe asthma attack. In the four months leading up to his death he had gone without the common prescription drugs that kept his asthma under control.
Lucero says she tried to fill prescriptions for asthma medications Zumante had taken all his life at a Walgreens pharmacy. She was told the computer showed her son was no longer covered by Medicaid.
Attorney Erica Grossman says Zumante was still covered, but the problem was attributed to a computer glitch.
“The failure to fix a computer problem is a human error, not a technological one, and it comes down to people just failing to act intentionally,” Grossman told CBS4.
Lucero began calling Denver’s Department of Human Services hotline every three days about the situation and was told someone would call her back. She says no one ever did.
“It was maddenning, infuriarating. It was heartbreaking,” Lucero told CBS4.
Soon after that Zumante, who was due to turn 10 in less than a month, had a devastating attack.
“I’m holding him in my lap and he’s flailing because he’s in an absolute panic because he can’t breathe and then he passed out in my arms,” Lucero said.
He was rushed to Children’s Hospital but after four days a respirator was the only thing keeping him alive.
“We had them turn the respirator off and Zumante died very shortly after that,” she said.
Zumante attended Smith Elementary School in Denver. After his death a garden there was dedicated in his name.
Lucero told CBS4 her son had a talent for drawing, loved karate and adored his younger siblings. “I want Zumante’s legacy to be one of life,” she said.
Lucero is certain that with his medication Zumante would be alive today.
“There’s a quote that I heard, and it says ‘The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is the duty of the living to do so for them’ and that’s why I’m here,” Lucero said.
Denver Human Services released a statement to CBS4 about the lawsuit saying the death of any child is a tremendous loss. The agency says it can’t say more than that because of confidentiality laws and the pending suit.
It could be a year before the case goes to trial.