Articles Posted in Nursing Home Fall Cases

Rhonda Stephan, as the personal representative of the estate of Bobby Gene Hicks, appealed an order by the trial court granting a motion to compel arbitration that was filed by Millennium Nursing and Rehab Center Inc. Stephan contended that Bobby Hicks, her father, died in 2015 while he was a resident at Millennium Nursing and Rehab Center, which is a skilled-nursing facility owned and operated by Millennium.

While Hicks was hospitalized at Crestwood Medical Center, Stephan signed all of the paperwork arranging for her father to be discharged from the hospital and then transferred to the rehab center at Millennium Nursing. However, she did not hold a power of attorney for healthcare or any other actual legal authority to act on behalf of her dad or to enter into a contract in his name.

Hicks did not sign any of the paperwork. However, he is named as a party to the contracts included within that paperwork.

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The state appellate court in Nebraska held that a lawsuit against a nursing home arising out of a patient’s fall from bed required expert testimony to prove causation and was not subject to the common-knowledge exception.

In this case, Musa Gwelo suffered from multiple myeloma, chronic pain, depression, and tachycardia. She was admitted to Life Care Center of Elkhorn and fell out of bed just hours after her admission. She died less than one week later.

Her estate sued the nursing home and its affiliates for her wrongful death. The defendants moved successfully for summary judgment.

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Audrey Smith, 92, lived at Anna Rehabilitation & Nursing Center and suffered from dementia, hypertension and depression. Almost ten years after her admission, she was found in a pool of blood on the floor of her room. She had fallen and suffered a subdural hematoma with midline shift, a C6 fracture, and an orbital fracture.

After being treated at a nearby hospital, Smith was transferred to a different hospital where she died seven days later. She was survived by her five adult children.

The Smith family and Smith’s estate sued the nursing home and its management company claiming it chose not to provide trained health care staff, provided inadequate staffing and supervision and failed to adhere to professional standards and inadequate care plan.

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June Newbauer, 70, lived at the Grace Living Center. She was dropped to the floor as she was being transferred into a shower chair. An x-ray showed no fracture, according to radiologist and defendant, Dr. James Zimmerman.

Another internist reviewed the same x-ray and also concluded there was no fracture.

The following month, Newbauer fell out of bed. Another internist who was called in to examine here did not order any imaging studies despite her leg pain. Four days later, she was correctly diagnosed as having a fractured left femur and knee.

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In this case, the plaintiff, Merton Messmore, brought a wrongful-death claim against the nursing home in Silvis, Ill., which is about 161 miles west of Chicago. Messmore’s wife, Mary, died after she allegedly fell.

The Illinois Appellate Court called this case “a unique situation” about a stay under Section 2(d) of the Uniform Arbitration Act because the survival claims Messmore filed on behalf of Mary’s estate “are subject to arbitration, his wrongful-death claim is not, and he bases all three claims on the same factual allegations.”

Messmore wanted to proceed in the circuit court but discovery on the wrongful-death claim included taking his evidence deposition (Messmore is at least 90.) without having to wait for arbitration of the survival claims. The defendants, Silvis Operations d/b/a Lighthouse of Silvis and one of its nurses, argued that Section 2(d) required the trial judge to stay all three claims.

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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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Edward Arnold was 70 when he was admitted to Whitestone Care Center for rehabilitation after a below-the-knee amputation of his left leg. After he went through dialysis, he was placed in a chair and left alone.

Arnold later fell, fracturing his right hip. The rehabilitation center’s staff then placed him back in his bed. Several days later, he was admitted to a hospital where he underwent hip surgery. Because of the hip fracture, he received additional rehabilitation, but he died months later of unrelated causes.

Arnold’s estate sued the nursing home, its corporate owners and managers, and other related corporate entities, alleging failure to adequately staff the nursing home, corporate negligence and joint venture liability. Continue reading

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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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 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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