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Jury finds brothers not at fault for man’s death from drinking

David Baugher//January 21, 2020

Jury finds brothers not at fault for man’s death from drinking

David Baugher//January 21, 2020

A St. Louis County jury ruled that two brothers were not at fault after an intoxicated young man lost consciousness at their home and later died.

Plaintiffs Batool and Sarwar Ahmed alleged that Devin and Eric Homan had “failed to timely summon medical assistance” for their son Faraaz, who arrived with a friend at the Homan family’s house shortly before midnight on St. Patrick’s Day 2016.

“He was there for 10 or 15 minutes and passed out,” said Joshua S. Davis of Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice, who represented Eric Homan. “When they realized he wasn’t breathing, they immediately called 911.”

Emergency crews rendered aid to Faraaz Ahmed, but he died less than two weeks later while hospitalized.

Davis said he argued that the brothers were not medical professionals and did not fall under the duty to take the actions suggested by the plaintiffs under Missouri law.

He also contended that Ahmed’s .26 blood-alcohol level — measured about two hours after he became unresponsive — indicated little could have been done to save him.

“According to the literature and the studies, the BAC alone could have been up to a .30 at the time of his collapse,” he said. “Anything between a .22 and a .50 in and of itself can be fatal.”

Gordon Ankney of Thompson Coburn, who represented Devin Homan, said the brothers attempted to awaken the decedent by splashing water in his face and called 911 after they realized the seriousness of the situation.

“I think the bottom line just came down to there was simply no evidence of negligence on behalf of the Homans,” he said.

Ankney said Ahmed’s companion, who was not a party in the suit, indicated that the defendants had acted properly.

“I think the other important thing was the testimony of the friend who was with him as to how intoxicated he was and that the actions taken by the Homans were not unreasonable in any way,” he said.

Both attorneys said there was significant debate about exactly how much time passed before 911 was called. The plaintiffs alleged as much as 17 minutes could have passed. The suit alleged that the Homans tried moving Ahmed around the room instead of quickly calling for assistance.

“When you see someone pass out, not everyone calls 911 right away,” Davis said. “People try to figure out what’s going on.”

Still, he said, they phoned instantly when they saw he wasn’t breathing.

Davis said his clients did not provide any alcohol to Ahmed during the short period he was in the residence, nor did they consume any themselves. Toxicology tests did not indicate any narcotics in the decedent’s system.

The defense introduced texting records to show that Ahmed had a recent history of partying and intoxication.

“We thought it was really a tragic situation,” Davis said.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys Richard Witzel and Jay Kanzler III of Witzel, Kanzler & Dimmitt, did not respond to a request for comment. Davis said the plaintiffs sought $3 million before trial and suggested $3 million per defendant plus punitive damages at trial.

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Wrongful death

Venue: St. Louis County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 16SL-CC04571/May 6, 2019

Judge: Thea Sherry

Plaintiff’s Expert: Michael Mullins, St. Louis (emergency medicine and toxicology)

Last Pretrial Demand: $3 million

Caption: Batool and Sarwar Ahmed v. Devin Homan and Eric Scott Homan

Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Richard Witzel and Jay Kanzler III, Witzel, Kanzler & Dimmitt, St. Louis

Defendants’ Attorney: Joshua Davis and Rebecca Guntli, Baker, Sterchi, Cowden & Rice, St. Louis (for Eric Homan); Gordon Ankney and Danny Garcia, Thompson Coburn, St. Louis (for Devin Homan)

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