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Family of Local Barista Files Wrongful Death Suit Against City of Santa Barbara, State Agencies

Parents allege Jordan Soto, 24, would have lived if not for a 9-1-1 system failure

The family of a beloved local barista has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Santa Barbara and several state agencies, alleging that a faulty 9-1-1 call system led emergency personnel to the wrong address the night she collapsed and later died.

The 20-minute delay made all the difference earlier this year, according to the civil suit, which was filed last month and alleged gross negligence on the part of Karen Wong, assistant director of California Public Safety Communications, the 9-1-1 Advisory Board Work Group, the State of California, the California Highway Patrol, and the City of Santa Barbara and its Police Department.

According to the complaint, an address mix-up on Jan. 30 cost 24-year-old Jordan Soto her life and robbed her 17-month-old son, Dominic Dash, of a life with his mother.

The suit alleges the defendants failed to establish, operate and maintain an adequate 9-1-1 emergency call dispatch system, which currently routes cell phone calls to the California Highway Patrol, rerouting to local emergency response personnel.

Newport Beach attorney Mark Peacock filed the lawsuit on behalf of Soto’s estate, demanding a jury trial and damages exceeding $25,000.

On the night in question, Soto, who worked at the Daily Grind, was found collapsed and unconscious on the floor of her Santa Barbara family home, where she lived with Dash and parents, Cindy Jacobs-Soto and Ruben Soto.

A family member used a cell phone to dial 9-1-1, and the call was routed to Ventura instead of Santa Barbara, according to the complaint.

A dispatcher confirmed the correct address on Tinker Way — less than a mile from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital — but a Santa Barbara dispatcher subsequently provided the wrong address to first responders, one five miles from the Soto home on Cedar Lane, the suit says.

When an ambulance arrived 20 minutes after the first call, Soto still had a pulse but died later that night at the hospital, the complaint said.

The Soto family doesn’t want to place blame on the local individuals involved, but they do want Sacramento to take a better look at its system, said Peacock, who would not disclose why Soto collapsed or if it was related to a pre-existing medical condition.

“I think what they would really like to have happen is that, obviously, this doesn’t happen to anybody else ever again,” he told Noozhawk. “Even though it’s been a few months now, they’re still devastated. They don’t understand why the government failed like that. Neither do I. There’s no amount of money that would replace Jordan.”

Peacock said a doctor at Cottage Hospital told him the time difference would’ve saved Soto’s life, and he hopes discovery will shed light on how this happened.

The City of Santa Barbara had not received a copy of the suit as of this week, according to Assistant City Attorney Tom Shapiro.

“While I can’t comment on the allegations in the suit yet, I should note that generally California law provides immunities from suit for negligence claims for 9-1-1 operations and operators,” Shapiro said. “It appears that the Soto family will be alleging gross negligence, which might not be immunized.”

Locals might remember Soto from signs put up on the counters of the two Santa Barbara Daily Grind locations earlier this year, hoping to raise money for Dash via a Jordan Soto Memorial Fund. The online campaign fell just short of its $15,000 goal, raising more than $11,500.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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