Articles Posted in Assisted Living Facilities

Louise Reese, 100, lived at Harbison Hall Assisted Living. While an employee of the facility was helping her get up from the commode, she dropped her to the floor. Reese suffered bilateral femur fractures.  Without further examination, the employee of the facility put her back in her bed and covered her up with bed sheets and blankets.

When a hospice aide arrived to see Reese, she found her moaning in pain. The aide also discovered severe swelling and bruising around Reese’s knees and lower thighs. X-rays revealed the femur fractures in both legs. Although Reese was transported to a hospital for care and treatment, she unfortunately died the next day.

Reese’s estate sued Harbison Hall alleging that its employee chose not to protect the patient while moving her from the commode to a wheelchair. It was also alleged that the employee failed to call for help when she dropped Reese and failed to evaluate her. There was also an allegation that the assisted living facility and its employees decided not to report the fall to Reese’s family. The lawsuit also alleged inadequate staff training. It may be obvious, but it seems likely that the nursing aide or employee elected to hide her condition under the bed clothes after she dropped Reese to the floor and elected not to tell anyone about the fall, which undoubtedly severely injured the fragile 100-year-old woman.

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Tho Nguyen, 43, suffered from a traumatic brain injury and quadriplegia. He lived in a private home and received services from a non-profit corporation that provided community-based care to persons with disabilities.

Nguyen’s sister, who was his guardian, learned that he suffered a bruise on his left side, allegedly coming from an incident in which a caregiver pulled him from his wheelchair and kicked him while he was lying on the ground. Nguyen’s sister, on his behalf, sued the community-based care center alleging negligent hiring, supervision and retention of the aide who, plaintiff asserted, was previously named in a domestic dispute.

The defendant denied the incident ever took place but still settled the case.

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Ms. Doe was in her 60s when she was admitted to the Roe Skilled Nursing Facility after undergoing hip replacement surgery.

She asked for assistance with transferring herself from her bed or chair to the bathroom. A certified nursing assistant who had never worked with her before answered her call. Before Ms. Doe moved to a seated position, the nursing assistant dropped her legs over the bed. This caused her to suffer a broken right femur.

The nursing home’s staff chose not to evaluate Ms. Doe despite her pain after her fall. Ms. Doe was transferred to a nearby hospital that evening where she received the diagnosis of a fractured right femur.

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Barbara Carroll, 75, was admitted to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation after a surgery.  Within a week, she developed a significant pressure sore on her coccyx, which progressed to Stage IV despite her use of an air mattress. She died of sepsis a month after her admission to the skilled nursing facility and was survived by her three adult children.

One of her daughters filed a claim against Oak Rehabilitation Centers claiming that the owner was liable for choosing not to provide Carroll with a functioning air mattress. Without that air mattress, it was alleged that her pressure ulcer worsened.

Before a lawsuit was filed, the parties settled for $340,000. Continue reading

The Supreme Court of Rhode Island has held that the release of a master or principal or employer from liability also releases a servant or employee from potential legal liability.

In this case, Michelle Hall sued Tavares Pediatric Center Inc., an assisted living facility, alleging liability for injuries her daughter suffered while being care for there. Before trial, the parties settled. The plaintiff signed a joint tortfeasor release that exempted Tavares agents and employees. The court then dismissed the case.

Later, Hall sued two nurses who provided care to her daughter at the same Tavares Pediatric Center. The nurses moved for summary judgment on the basis that under state law, they and Tavares were a single tortfeasor and, therefore, Tavares released the nurses. The trial court agreed and an appeal was taken.

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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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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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Jovan Hinich was 28 years old and suffered from a neurological disorder that limited his mental capacity to that of a toddler. He lived at Next Step in Community Living facility, where his care plan required him to be supervised while eating and for his food to be cut into bite-sized pieces due to his tendency to eat quickly and swallow food without chewing it.

While he was traveling by van to his day program at the Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI), he was allowed to access his lunch, including a sandwich. After arriving at MCFI, Hinich collapsed from an obstructed airway. Part of the sandwich was later removed from his throat.

Hinich suffered cardiopulmonary arrest, which resulted in severe brain damage.  He now resides at a facility for those with brain injuries.

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A Louisiana State Appellate Court has held that the automobile policy exclusion in a long-term care and general liability insurance policy applied to claims barred on behalf of a patient who fell from a van’s wheelchair lift.

In this case, Shirley Ann Marzell, who was a patient at the Charlyn Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, was placed in her wheelchair onto the lift platform of the facility’s van. When her assistant moved away from her, Marzell’s weight shifted and the wheelchair rolled off the platform. She struck her head on the pavement. Marzell and her two daughters filed suit against American Safety & Indemnity Co., the insurance company that insured Charlyn Enterprises, the owner of the rehab center.

The insurance company moved for summary judgment maintaining that the automobile exclusion in Charlyn’s insurance policy applied to this lawsuit.  That provision stated in part that the insurance policy did not apply to any claim arising out of the use of an automobile, including acts of loading or unloading. The trial judge granted the motion for summary judgment dismissing the case. An appeal was taken.

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