Wife of Lake Forest Nursing Home Resident Injured While Visiting; Jury Verdict for Facility; Kopriwa v. Presbyterian Homes

Most cases brought against Illinois nursing homes are for claims of nursing home abuse or negligence. However, in the case of Carol Kopriwa v. Presbyterian Homes a/k/a Lake Forest Place, 08 L-1033, the plaintiff brought an Illinois personal injury claim against the Illinois nursing home for injuries she sustained while visiting one of its residents.

In January 2007, the plaintiff, Carol Kopriwa, was visiting her seriously ill husband at the Lake Forest Place Nursing Home. This was not the first time Mrs. Kopriwa had visited her husband at the nursing home. However, what was unique about this particular visit was that as Mrs. Kopriwa began to walk away from her husband’s bed she tripped and fell on an electrical cord.

Mrs. Kopriwa had been sitting in a chair next to her husband’s bed right before the fall and had allegedly not noticed the electrical cord being used for his bedside alarm. As a result of her fall, Mrs. Kopriwa sustained a left-sided sacral fracture and left ischiopubic fracture that would require surgery.

In fact, it was this failure by Mrs. Kopriwa to notice the electrical cord which was the basis of Lake Forest Place’s defense. It stated that both a supervising nurse and other relative of Mrs. Kopriwa were in the room almost immediately prior to the fall and that neither one of them had seen the bed alarm cord. Furthermore, the defense argued that the nature of Mr. Kopriwa’s condition required a lot of medical equipment with cords and that this was a known, expected, and necessary condition of his illness.

Another difficulty with Mrs. Kopriwa’s personal injury claim was that no one had witnessed her fall. While Mrs. Kopriwa was able to bring forward her treating physicians to attest to the severe nature of her injuries, she was unable to bring forward any witnesses who could attest to the negligence of the nursing home in its placement of the electrical cord.

After receiving all of the evidence, the jury deliberated and returned a verdict in favor of Lake Forest Place. Although the jury may not have been debriefed on how they reached their verdict, focus group research has revealed that time again jurors are reluctant to find in favor of a person injured in a fall without a reliable, independent witness. In this case, no one saw the plaintiff’s fall. And here, the plaintiff was not the patient, but the visitor to the facility. In combination, the jury apparently was not convinced of the negligence alleged by plaintiff.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Cook County nursing home and elder abuse cases for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and the surrounding areas, including Hoffman Estates, Barrington, Roscoe Village, Blue Island and Lynwood.

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