FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – A Battle Lake man is suing the city of Fergus Falls, the Fergus Falls Police Department and two police officers alleging that officers caused him to miss the birth of his child by wrongfully detaining him while he was enroute to the hospital.
However, a lawyer for the defendants says officers acted appropriately and helped to prevent a tragedy.
A jury trial is scheduled for January 2016.
After complications from a planned home delivery for his pregnant wife, Dennis Fronning was rushing to Lake Region Healthcare on the advice of his midwife. On his way to the hospital, he was stopped and detained by Fergus Falls police officers while his wife was taken the rest of the way via ambulance.
Although Fronning was taken to the hospital, the civil suit claims, officers detained him and denied him the chance to see the birth of his baby boy.
Fronning is suing for damages in an amount greater than $50,000 for suffering - and continuing to suffer - mental pain and anguish, severe emotional trauma, embarrassment and humiliation from the incident that took place two years ago.
A response filed on behalf of the defendants argues that the officers acted lawfully and that any injuries or damage sustained by Fronning was the result of his own careless, negligent and unlawful conduct.
"The defense has a much different understanding of the facts and the law than Mr. Fronning does," the lawyer for the defendants, Daniel Kurtz, wrote in an email. "We believe the record will show that the officers, along with an ambulance crew, intervened in a medical emergency and the officers then safely led that ambulance to the hospital. Without the officers' intervention, this incident could have had tragic consequences, and we fully anticipate that the officers and the city will be exonerated."
The civil complaint - filed last year- details Fronning's allegations.
Fronning's wife went into labor April 28, 2013, as part of a planned home delivery with the aid of a midwife. The midwife arrived at the Fronning's Battle Lake home 4:15 p.m. that day.
An hour-and-a-half into labor, the midwife observed complications in the delivery that constituted a medical emergency and recommended going to Lake Regional Healthcare immediately.
Fronning called the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office and told the county dispatch operator that he was heading to Fergus Falls as quickly as possible.
While driving to Lake Region, Fronning's vehicle was intercepted by Fergus Falls police officer Robb Foreman near the intersection of County Road 33 and Highway 210.
Fronning claims that he was told by the dispatch officers that he should ignore the sirens and keep on driving to the hospital. When an ambulance caught up with the car and Fronning pulled over so his wife could get in the ambulance, Fronning was detained by officer Foreman and told to speak with police sergeant Andrew Miller, who placed Fronning in the back of his squad car.
While Fronning was driven to the hospital, he claimed that he was left in the locked squad car in Lake Region's parking lot. While Fronning was later taken to the hospital waiting room, he claimed that Miller ignored Fronning's requests to allow him to join his wife.
"Defendants admit only that Sergeant Miller told plaintiff to remain in the waiting room while he sought additional information and directives from hospital personnel," the response to the civil suit reads.
The lawsuit alleges that Fronning's detention directly resulted in him missing the birth of his baby boy.
The lawsuit also claims that due to the severe emotional distress Fronning endured his dairy business has suffered a loss in productivity.
The lawsuit names Foreman, Miller, The Fergus Falls Police Department and The City of Fergus Falls as defendants in the case.