Wrongful Death Suit

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Evelyn Zagal was two and a half when she died in her crib in Rockford in May of last year. Her parents say her nurse and the company she worked for are responsible for the toddler's death.
The family initially filed suit in Cook County where the company is based, but a judge has just moved the case to Winnebago County because the defendents and the nurse live here.
Zagal had large growths on her neck and head that restricted her breathing and she relied on a tube to help her breath. The night she died the, tube came out of her neck and her family says the nurse, Edna Briggs-Gunther, failed to replace it before the toddler suffocated.
"I let Edna come into my home and I trusted her because a nurse isn't supposed to do that, this is not supposed to happen," says Evelyn's mother Teresa Zagal.
Briggs-Gunther was reprimanded after the case and, according to court documents, she signed a consent admitting she failed to notice the tube had come out of the toddler's throat. But she was cleared by the State Nursing Board to continue practicing in Rockford.
Briggs-Gunther tells 23 News, though she couldn't see the tube in Evelyn's throat, she believed it was still in place before she called the mother in for help, because it was in the last time she checked. She says she is very upset by the allegations.
The Zagal family is suing Briggs-Gunther for negligent care and her company for failure to train her properly. They have not set a monetary amount yet. The family has not ruled out the possibility of settling the case out of court, but right now it is moving toward trial.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by no-where-man Location: no-where-land on Dec 8, 2007 at 06:57 AM
    The question is not the childs quality of living but will the lawyers go for a quick settlement just to get their share of the booty or will they really put some effort inot finding out how this really happened. These stories are never as see-threw as they seem. I hope there is a trial so that the people can hear all the facts and not just sweep it away so it can happen to somebody elses kid.
  • by Roni Location: Perth, Australia on Sep 21, 2007 at 10:06 PM
    Maybe this is too late to matter, but I have to comment. My 4 month old son has the same condition as Evelyn, and a tracheostomy. Is Laura perhaps suggesting because he has a cosmetic deformity and medical intervention to help him breathe he has no quality of life and I should take his trach out and let him die? Do some research, hundreds of kids lead full and happy lives, even if they have medical and cosmetic difficulties. What an ignorant and intolerant point of view. I feel sad the family in their grief had to be exposed to such rude comments.
  • by jose Location: beloit on Jul 13, 2007 at 05:57 PM
    enfermera stupida igual que laura de belvidere
  • by Concerned nurse Location: Belot on Jul 12, 2007 at 11:12 AM
    I have read the very,very ignorant letter by "Laura" a Belvidere viewer. She suggests that Evie was not worthy of life and that it was acceptable for Edna Briggs Gunther to allow the child to smother."Laura" suggests that little Evie, who suffered more than most two year olds, should simply suffocate in her bed as this might be "God's will." Laura, you are an ignorant fool. I hope that you do not have a member of your family or any of your friends that ever suffer from any disability or injury. Your "GOD" may decide to simply allow a nurse to murder them in their beds because they were less than perfect. Evie Zagal was a happy, well adjusted child who was loved by her family and this community. She simply had a breathing tube that had to be watched. She played, loved, crawled, hugged, and was a normal child, except for her tumor. Laura, who seems to believe her God would take this little life, also seems to believe the family just wants money. Laura, would money make you happy after your two year old died? How much? Can we send your family members to Rosewood Care Center to allow Edna Briggs Gunther to act out your God's will for your family members. Laura, did you ever think about how Evie's mother, brother and father might feel when you suggested she should be dead as "god's will'? What a careless heartless person you are. Find another hobby instead of writing web posts. You are a simple waste of oxygen and I hope God will see fit to cure your ignorance.
  • by Dora Location: Rockford, Illinois on Jul 11, 2007 at 03:16 PM
    In response to Laura's comment: not to be rude, but you have no idea what you are talking about and you should rather not say anything at all. You did not know Evelyn, to your own misfortune, and you did not know the quality of life she lived. I bet she lived a more beautiful life than you will ever know. Am I being rude? I don't care. She was my niece. I love her, and I will not let anyone talk that way about her or her family. How could you speak so ignorantly without even knowing anything? A news story only goes so far, there is so much you don't know. You hear the facts; yes, my niece died due to the negligence of one nurse and yes, we are suing Edna Briggs-Gunther and the company for allowing this. But if you heard Evelyn's mom and dad's cries, or better yet, her 5-year-old brother, then maybe you would think differently. Money doesn't ease any pain, and that is not what we are after. God had nothing to do with my niece's death, God only embraced her soul when she left. What was a true blessing was having known Evelyn. She was an inspiration to me. She showed me the values and struggles of life, and even through her death I learned that it can all be torn away from you. I know what I know, and you know what you know. I was so hurt and angered when I read your comment, but I realize not everyone was blessed with knowing and loving Evelyn and her life. The ignorant only skim over other's lives and gossip, never really knowing anything at all. I hope your ignorance gets you far in life.
  • by lilia Location: Rockford on Jul 11, 2007 at 12:47 PM
    This is to Laura in Belvidere, how ignorant are you to make such a judgemental comment about the family? Normally I let small minded people speak thier mind without saying anything, but I won't be doing my sister justice if I don't comment. Let me start by saying that yes there will be monatary gain, but only people with your mentality would make it into a "quick get rich". You ask "what kind of quality of life did she have" Lady you dont know what quality of life is my baby niece had more quality of life in the short life she had than most adults do. You could see it in her eyes and her fighting spirit to live. For what? So when she looked up from her crib and her mom or dad were at bedside she was center of attention noone else mattered, they were in their own world. I won't go into detail about all the sacrafice my sister and her family went through you would'nt understand but understand this if this was GOD'S will why would HE take her after having endured countless surgeries that she came out of like a fighting champ? Her fighting spirit is the inspiration to all her family most people get depressed when they are sick not Evie she only had smiles and love to give. One more thing the family never belived the nurse did this on pupose but it was negligence.
  • by Teresa Location: Rockford on Jul 11, 2007 at 10:22 AM
    Laura, only someone who is in my situation can truly understand where I am coming from. So I don't expect you to. Does her quality of life really matter? So if someone in your family didn't have "quality of life" would you be ok that a neglegant nurse caused their death? Look into your heart. A human life is a human life no matter what the limitations may be. I think your comment is judgemental and precipitated. Yes, if I win my civil case I will have a financial gain, but one should not be judgemental until maybe you find out what I do with the money. Maybe one day my financial gain will start an organization that helps people with disabilities. Perhaps one day you or your family might be in need of an organization such as that. And if I am able to help you, then yes you are exactly right: It will ease my pain.
  • by Laura Location: Belvidere,Il on Jul 11, 2007 at 04:30 AM
    What happened was very sad, Is this the way the childs life would be the rest of her life. what quality of life did this child have? Things like this somtimes are more of a blessing maybe this was in Gods hands. What does this nurse have to benefit from doing this on purpose. It seems to me the parents who are suing over the loss have more to gain $$$$$$$ I hope the money will ease the pain.
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