Woman Who Was Arrested for DUI While Allegedly Having Massive Stroke Sues City, Police and Fire Departments

Judge's Gavel

Since the 2019 incident, Jane Carhuff continues to suffer strokes and functions on a vegetative level, according to the complaint obtained by Inside Edition Digital.

A Washington State woman who was arrested by police who were told by firefighter personnel that she appeared to be "under the influence of some unknown intoxicant" was actually having a massive stroke that has left her functioning at a vegetative level, according to a lawsuit the woman’s attorney filed in court last week.

When Jane Carhuff began feeling unwell on the evening of Nov. 10, 2019, she called her supervisor and the post office and requested the next day off, according to a complaint filed by Carhuff's attorney in Pierce County against the City of Puyallup, the Puyallup Police Department, Pierce County Fire Protection District #6 and the Central Pierce Fire and Rescue. The single 55-year-old wanted to see her family practitioner, she told her supervisor, and the request was granted. 

The next morning, she had breakfast with her brother's wife and daughter at their shared home in Puyallup before setting out on the approximately 20-minute drive to her doctor's office, the complaint says. She seemed fine at breakfast, her family says, but on the way to her doctor, Carhuff suffered a medical emergency and "inadvertently caused three accidents on her way," says the complaint, obtained by Inside Edition Digital. 

The car accident victims called 911, and police eventually arrived at Carhuff's doctor’s office, where she was waiting in the reception area after miraculously completing her drive.

"Carhuff mumbled something about being diabetic," and so members of Central Pierce Fire and Rescue who also responded to the scene checked her blood sugar and vitals. After her blood sugar came back normal, the firefighters told police Carhuff was "not in any medical distress" and that she appeared to be "under the influence of some unknown intoxicant," the complaint says. These determinations were made "without a medical doctor present," the complaint says. 

Police wrote a search warrant for a forensic blood draw, but did not conduct field sobriety tests and no drug recognition expert was contacted, the complaint says. 

Blood was drawn in Parkland by a Pierce County deputy and Carhuff was driven back to Puyallup and booked into the Puyallup jail, the complaint says. "A jail video of the jail booking of her shows Jane is in medical distress," the complaint says. "No medical personnel were called in to check on her."

After two hours, jailers who "thought Jane was acting so 'goofy' they better do something" dispatched a Puyallup police officer to her home to "figure out if 'goofy' is, according to family, normal for Ms. Carhuff," the complaint says.

Her relatives told police she "acts normal as everyone else," and noted that she was a full-time federal employee. They also made arrangements for her bail, which was posted about eight hours after her arrest. At no point during that time period was Carhuff examined by a medical professional, the complaint says.

"Though clearly in distress, the family was told by the Municipal Defendant's employees that Jane was not in medical distress, but rather, just suffering from the influence of drugs," the complaint continues. "The family were told she drove high on drugs and caused multiple accidents. For these reasons the family detrimentally relied on what the Defendant City employees told them and waited for signs of drug impairment to lessen. Unfortunately, over the next 24 to 36 hours, Jane's condition did not improve."

Carhuff's brother took her to an urgent care clinic, where clinic staff instructed Carhuff's family to rush her to an emergency room

"A CAT Scan was ordered upon arrival," the complaint says. "It showed massive stroke damage to half of Jane's cortex."

A Puyallup Municipal Court judge ultimately dismissed the DUI charges against Carhuff, the News Tribune reported

Carhuff has continued to suffer strokes since and is currently functioning on a vegetative level, the complaint says. She is now under state care, is fed by caregivers and doesn’t remember who her family is, her brother James Carhuff told the Tribune. "It’s really a tragedy,” he said. “She was young. And now, when I have to look at her, I have to cry.”

Carhuff is seeking damages for pain and suffering, medical costs, property damage, out of pocket costs, loss of quality of life and other special damages such other relief as deemed just and proper, including attorney's fees and costs of suit. Tom Balerud, the attorney who filed the lawsuit this month on behalf of Carhuff, told the Tribune that neither the city of Puyallup nor Central Pierce Fire responded to tort claims he filed more than two months ago as a precursor to the lawsuit. 

The Central Pierce Fire Co., and attorneys representing the City of Puyallup have not responded to Inside Edition Digital's requests for comment. 

Inside Edition Digital reached Carhuff’s attorney, Tom Balerud, who issued "no comment" for this story.

"Due to pending litigation, the City of Puyallup will not be providing a statement at this time," Puyallup Police Captain Ryan Portmann told Inside Edition Digital in an email.

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