Eagles fan who died in the stands didn’t receive medical attention for 30 minutes, lawsuit alleges
The suit raises questions about how expediently sports fans should expect to receive medical care if they experience an emergency inside a crowded stadium.
It took at least half an hour for emergency medical personnel to reach an Eagles fan who suffered a cardiac event at his Lincoln Financial Field seat and later died during an Eagles game last season, says a lawsuit filed by the family of the late Joseph Nocero.
Filed Tuesday in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by lawyers for his wife, Melissa Nocero, the suit adds more detail to his friends’ account of what happened in Section 236 of Lincoln Financial Field before the Eagles-Patriots game began on Nov. 17, 2019, and raises questions about how expediently sports fans should expect medical care if they experience an emergency inside a crowded stadium.
Nocero’s family says in the suit that National Event Services — a private crowd-management company that provides EMS staffing for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, and other clients — provided delayed and deficient emergency response, as did an unidentified on-site physician who was employed by the company and didn’t tend to Nocero at all during the hour he was in the stadium before being taken to a hospital.
National Event Services did not return multiple requests for comment. Earlier this year, the Eagles, who are not named in the Nocero lawsuit, declined to comment on specific cases or discuss emergency preparedness and response at the stadium, saying they "place a priority on the safety of our fans, but do not discuss that type of information publicly.”
The Nocero lawsuit comes nearly two months after the family of Marco Bianchi, 38, who suffered a fatal cardiac-related emergency at his seat in Section 131 during a September 2019 Eagles-Lion game, alleged in a separate lawsuit that “for an unreasonably long period of time while spectators were attempting life-saving services on the decedent ... EMS personnel failed to arrive at the scene with proper equipment.”
At the Eagles-Patriots game in November, Nocero, 41, a Bucks County native and longtime season ticket holder, became unresponsive as soon as he sat down in the upper bowl, his friends told The Inquirer earlier this year, and his body started moving oddly. They said someone immediately ran for help.
Although a security guard and a police officer arrived in minutes, Nocero’s friend Conrad Muth said, EMTs were nowhere to be seen.
“I was screaming to the security guard: ‘Where are the EMTs?’” said Muth, who had season tickets with Nocero. “I was just really angry with how long it took them to get to him.”
From a club box at midfield, Nocero’s longtime friend Jeremy Collinson said he also watched and waited in panic.
“It felt like an eternity,” he said.
“Due to the inconceivable delays and deficiencies” by the staff of National Event Services, “Mr. Nocero languished on the ground in the midst of a cardiac event gasping for air as he awaited appropriate medical assistance,” reads the lawsuit filed by the Center City law firm Ross Feller Casey LLP.
When an EMT and paramedic arrived at least half an hour later, Nocero was receiving CPR from a police officer or security guard, according to the lawsuit. The emergency medical professionals worked on Nocero for about 10 minutes in the stands, the suit says, before taking him to another part of the stadium for an additional 20 minutes.
The stadium’s on-site doctor should have been notified about the serious condition of Nocero, whom a paramedic had tried and failed to intubate, but the doctor did not report or respond scene, the lawsuit says. The suit called it “individual gross deviation from the standard of care by Dr. John/Jane Doe as well as a system breakdown by NES Inc."
Nocero was intubated in an ambulance headed to Jefferson Methodist Hospital, the suit says, where he arrived at 5:04 p.m. and was pronounced dead at 5:17 p.m.
He left behind his wife, a young son named Nico, and a tight-knit group of friends and fellow Eagles fans.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, a few of those friends were set to return in September to the seats in Section 236, where Nocero spent his last moments.