Ralph Ford, 73, lived at St. Francis Nursing Center. He suffered from cognitive impairment and had a tendency to wander.

On one night, he left the nursing home unnoticed in his wheelchair. He was found early the next day in a Dumpster several blocks away; his limbs were frozen solid. He unfortunately died shortly thereafter. He was survived by two siblings.

Ford’s estate sued the nursing home alleging it negligently allowed him to leave the nursing home through an unlocked, broken and unarmed door and then delayed initiating a search for him for five hours after discovering that he was missing from his room.

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A Mississippi Appellate Court has held that the two-year statute of limitations for the wrongful death of Sanders Hopkins Sr. was the basis for the dismissal from the lawsuit brought by Hopkins’ son.

Hopkins Sr. lived in the Biloxi Community Living Center (CLC), an assisted living facility.  He who used a wheelchair, required dialysis and was transported to an outside medical facility for these treatments. After dialysis one day, he fell from his wheelchair, hitting his head. Later the same day, he injured his head a second time, which led to a subdural hematoma, the condition that caused his untimely death.

Hopkins’ son sued the company that transported him to the dialysis appointments and the medical facility. More than two years had passed after Hopkins’s death when his son amended his complaint adding CLC as a party defendant.

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The Texas Supreme Court has held that a plaintiff satisfied the requirements of the state’s Medical Liability Act. The plaintiff offered multiple expert reports in a case alleging that an assisted living facility and other medical providers chose not to timely discover a resident’s missing dental bridge.

Betty Hathcock lived at Village of Lake Highlands, an assisted living facility. She reported the loss of her dental bridge to the facility’s staff members, who searched the facility but did not find it. It was later discovered the bridge was lodged in her trachea when an x-ray was done. She had developed respiratory symptoms that worsened over the course of an evening. Unfortunately, Hathcock died shortly after the discovery of the dental bridge.

Hathcock’s daughter sued the assisted living facility claiming failure to timely discover the missing bridge. To support the lawsuit, the Hathcock family filed four separate expert reports to satisfy the medical liability statute’s requirements, including one report discussing the medical cause of Hathcock’s death. The defendant moved to dismiss the case; the trial judge denied. The appellate court reversed the trial judge, and the case was taken up to the Texas Supreme Court for further consideration.

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Potential clients often report attacks on nursing home residents by roommates or other residents at Illinois nursing homes. Nursing homes typically are home to the elderly, the infirm, the mentally challenged and many who are suffering dementia or other lapses in mental capacity.

In many cases, resident-on-resident violence occurs in Illinois nursing homes on a regular basis.  All too often, nursing home residents suffer serious injuries. Nursing home residents are usually fragile physically and emotionally; thus, a fall, a shove, a strike or a blow to the body may cause serious injuries of all sorts that could lead to untimely deaths.

When a nursing home resident applies for residency, there is an assessment that takes place unique to the applying individual. When screening a prospective nursing home resident, the nursing home administrators examine medical reports, consult with treating physicians and interview family members as well as the prospective resident. This due diligence is a way of identifying potentially violent tendencies of a nursing home resident.

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The Iowa Supreme Court has held that the state owed no legal duty to a nursing home resident who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a convicted sex offender who had been transferred to the nursing home after leaving the state’s civil commitment unit for sex offenders.

Mercedes Gottschalk was a resident of the Pomeroy Care Center, a nursing home.  She was allegedly sexually assaulted by a violent sexual predator who was transferred from a state sex offender unit to this nursing home after receiving an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.

Gottschalk, and then later her estate, sued the nursing home alleging that it was reckless and negligent in the way the nursing facility cared for her. Pomeroy Care Center filed a cross-claim against the State of Iowa seeking relief. The state moved successfully for summary judgment.  An intermediate appellate court affirmed that decision.

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Cecil Gary, a 60-year-old resident of the McCracken Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, had a history of stroke and was also an amputee.  Although he had limitations in caring for himself, he was aware of his surroundings and generally enjoyed his life.

As a resident of this nursing home, he experienced eight different episodes of dehydration and later developed nausea and severe pain. In this particular incident, the nursing home staff left him in bed, in distress, for about 27 hours before calling paramedics to transfer him to a local hospital. When he was transferred, he was diagnosed as being severely dehydrated and in hypovolemic shock and acute kidney failure.

At the hospital, he received 27 liters of fluid before sending him back to the nursing home. Once he was back at McCracken Nursing and Rehabilitation, he fell, breaking his hip in three places. Gary was not a candidate for hip surgery given his medical condition.

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A Kentucky appellate court has held that a nursing home arbitration agreement without specific language allowing an attorney-in-fact to waive a resident’s right to a jury trial was enforceable because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

In reversing the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration, the appeals panel turned to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark, 137 S.Ct. 1421 (2017). In the Kindred Nursing Centers case, the Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts the state’s “clear statement rule,” which requires a power of attorney to contain an explicit authorization before an attorney-in-fact may waive a principal’s constitutional right to a jury trial. It was held that this case is substantively similar to the Kindred case.

In the underlying lawsuit, Jamie Free was admitted to Regis Woods Care and Rehabilitation Center, a long-term care facility. As she was being admitted, Jamie’s daughter, Reyetta Smith, signed an arbitration agreement in her individual and representative capacity. Smith later sued the facility and others claiming common law and statutory violations. The defendant moved to compel arbitration. The trial judge denied the motion on the basis that the power of attorney did not grant Smith express authority to sign the arbitration agreement on her mother’s behalf.

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On March 1, 2013, Ann Sanders entered into a residence agreement with the defendant, Victory Centre of Melrose Park, SLF Inc., a licensed supportive living facility. Pursuant to an addendum to the residence agreement, the parties agreed that all claims arising out of that agreement, including those of malpractice, could not be brought in a court of law but would be submitted to binding arbitration.

Later, Sanders, who had diabetes, suffered a diabetic shock and lapsed into a diabetic coma. She was then taken to Gottlieb Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., where she died on May 21, 2013.

Exactly two years after her death, a lawsuit was filed against Victory Centre of Melrose Park, SLF Inc. alleging negligence and seeking damages in connection with her death. In the complaint, the plaintiff alleged that Sanders’s death was due to the negligence of the nursing home. The lawsuit sought compensation for wrongful death under that statute, the Rights of Married Persons Act (commonly known as the Family Expense Act) and the Survival Act.

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Livija Cruse, an 80-year-old woman who suffered from mild dementia, was admitted to Chicago’s GlenCrest Healthcare and Rehab Center after falling at her home. She was also immobile. Over an 8-week period, she developed a bed sore on her buttocks. Because of the bed sore, she underwent two debridements and nine months of at-home wound treatment care after her discharge from GlenCrest.

On behalf of Cruse, her attorney-in-fact sued the nursing home and the ownership entities claiming that these defendants chose not to prevent and treat the bed sore.  It was also maintained that the nursing home failed to keep her clean and dry, provide her with an appropriate mattress for her condition and place a cushion on her wheelchair. In addition, the lawsuit argued that the nursing home chose not to comply with a doctor’s order regarding her wheelchair.

The defendants countered these arguments that the facility had in fact provided the appropriate care. Before trial, the parties settled for $100,000.

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There has been a recent uptick in claims and lawsuits brought by nursing home and long-term residents, families and loved ones against nursing homes and their ownership for injuries to residents because of the way they are assisted or not assisted depending on a resident’s dietary needs.

For example, many residents on entry to a nursing home are carefully screened for falls, bed sores, medication and are otherwise admitted to a nursing home after a reasonably careful and prudent screening process.

However, in many cases, the issue of a resident’s disability may be relevant in how he or she is able to eat and digest food.

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