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Parents Sue Technician in Drugging of Baby Girl

Times Staff Writer

A Van Nuys couple have filed suit against a former hospital technician from Encino convicted last week of giving their 11-month-old daughter a nearly fatal drug injection, allegedly because he wanted to save the baby and win acclaim as a hero.

Brian and Maria Mathews brought suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Randy Powers, 26, a former ambulance attendant and respiratory therapist. Powers was convicted Thursday of assault with a deadly weapon, child endangering and practicing medicine without a license for injecting the Mathews’ daughter Sarah with a large dose of the drug lidocaine.

The prosecution contended that Powers endangered the child’s life for “a little bit of glory,” hoping to use his medical training to rescue her and get credit for saving the baby’s life.

He is being held without bail for sentencing, scheduled for July 10.

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Unspecified Damages

In their suit, filed Monday, the parents are seeking medical expenses and unspecified general and punitive damages from Powers.

Also named as a defendant is Queen of Angels Medical Center. The suit accused the hospital, where Powers allegedly stole the drug and a syringe, of failure to properly supervise him.

Powers’ mother was baby-sitting Sarah at the Powers’ home in Encino Sept. 10 when the child lapsed into unconsciousness.

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Doctors testified that the girl’s body contained 20 times the adult dosage of lidocaine, leaving her in critical condition. Lidocaine is used as a local anesthetic and to control irregular heart contractions.

Powers told police the girl went into seizures after being bitten by an insect. He inserted a plastic airway into the baby’s throat and administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before rushing her to Northridge Hospital Medical Center, where doctors performed a tracheotomy, opening a hole in her windpipe to help her breathe.

Month’s Hospital Stay

She was released from the hospital a month later, but must still take anti-convulsion medicine.

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A detective testified at Powers’ trial that Powers had signed a confession stating that he stole the lidocaine and a syringe from Queen of Angels and administered the drug to Sarah.

Powers said he never made such a confession and denied that the signature on the document was his. Powers’ attorney argued that physicians at the hospital had injected Sarah with the lidocaine in an attempt to treat her, then conspired to frame Powers when the treatment went wrong.

The district attorney’s office has said that Powers is under investigation in connection with the deaths of five elderly patients who died at Queen of Angels and Sherman Oaks Community Hospital while he worked at those hospitals as a respiratory therapist in 1983 and 1984. Bodies of the five were exhumed for autopsies.

No charges have been filed against Powers in the deaths, and Powers’ attorney has threatened to file suit against the district attorney’s office for making “unwarranted accusations.”

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