Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

The family of Lola Norton, deceased  brought a wrongful death action against a number of defendants who were affiliated with a nursing home in which Bernard Norton’s wife, Lola  died.

Bernard and family claimed that negligent treatment caused Lola’s death. The the nursing home defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration of all claims in accordance with an agreement entered into by Lola at the time she was admitted to the nursing home.

The trial court granted the motion to stay and compel arbitration, and Bernard appealed, contending that, as a wrongful death beneficiary, he could not be bound to Lola’s arbitration agreement. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and found that Lola’s beneficiaries were not required to arbitrate their wrongful death claims against the nursing home defendants.

An Ohio Appellate Court has held that an arbitration agreement signed by the son of a resident at the time of the father’s admission to a nursing home did not justify compelled arbitration. Marcus Vickers signed an arbitration agreement when his father, Jack Johnson, was admitted to the Canal Pointe Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

After Johnson’s death, his son, Marcus Vickers, filed suit against the nursing home for negligence and wrongful death.  The lawsuit alleged survivorship as well as wrongful death claims.

The defendant nursing home filed a motion to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration.  The trial judge granted the nursing home’s motion and Vickers appealed.

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Violet Moseson, a 97-year-old resident of an assisted living facility, was mandated to be checked on every morning. The facility was to perform safety checks each morning for this resident and others. At the time of this occurrence, the electronic system through which the facility was supposed to communicate with Moseson was not turned on in her apartment when she moved in.

A week later, Moseson fell in her apartment at night. It was alleged that she spent the next 2-3 days trying to get help. There was a trail of blood and excrement in her apartment when a family member found her lying on the floor. Because of the severity of the fall, Moseson suffered spinal fractures, contusions as well as progressive dementia. Moseson died several months later and is survived by her two adult sons.

The decedent’s estate and family brought a claim that was arbitrated against the assisted living facility. It was maintained that the facility chose not to check on Moseson every 24 hours and chose not to activate the call system in her apartment. The defendant facility disputed the length of time that Moseson had been left in the apartment after her fall and countered that she was at fault for failing to purchase an emergency pendant. Many elderly people wear a pendant around their necks for emergencies. The pendant has a call button that alerts a switch board that then contacts family members.

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Ms. Doe, 78, suffered from blindness and mild dementia. Her nursing home care plan called for her to receive assistance from at least two people during any type of physical transfer. This would mean transfer from her bed or transfer from a chair or a transfer from her wheelchair. Nonetheless, only one nursing home aide assisted Ms. Doe when transferring her to the toilet. Under these circumstances, Ms. Doe fell and fractured her left tibia and fibula. She died six days later as a result of her injuries. Ms. Doe was survived by her two adult sons.

Ms. Doe’s family sued the nursing home claiming it chose not provide adequate transfer assistance, which led to her fall and unfortunate passing. The defendant nursing home argued that Ms. Doe’s death resulted from her underlying medical conditions, not from her fall. Before trial, the case was settled for $325,000 confidentially.

The attorney representing the Doe family was Brett R. Leitner.

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Sophia Alcon, 77, was admitted to Life Care Center of Pueblo, a skilled nursing facility. During the 7 months that she remained there, she suffered various injuries and illnesses, including urinary tract infections, bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition, pain, renal failure and aspiration pneumonia. She was brought to a nearby hospital where a staff medical provider noticed that her vagina was packed with dried feces. She died as a result of her medical conditions and is survived by her 10 adult children.

One of her sons, on her behalf and for the family, sued the nursing home and its corporate affiliates maintaining that they were responsible for her death. In the complaint it was alleged that the nursing home was negligent, was responsible for her wrongful death and was guilty of numerous consumer protection violations. Among other things, the Alcon family alleged that the defendants chose not to properly assess Sophia’s medical needs, formulate an appropriate care plan, provide adequate staffing and properly trained personnel at this skilled nursing facility.

The jury’s verdict of $5.56 million, included $5 million in punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendants for the abusive treatment to Sophia Alcon.

Ms. Doe, 82, lived at an assisted living facility. While she was there she fell, suffering a neck fracture and a myocardial infarction. In other words, not only did she sustain a fractured neck but she had a heart attack as well. Ms. Doe died two hours later. She was survived by her four adult children.

The lawsuit that was filed against the assisted living facility by the family alleged that the owner and operator of the facility chose not to implement fall precautions and properly monitor Ms. Doe or transfer her to a skilled nursing facility in light of her condition. Ms. Doe had dementia and a history of previous falls.

The defendant assisted living facility operator maintained that Ms. Doe’s cardiac event, her heart attack, was unrelated to her fall. When admitting a new resident, nursing homes and assisted living facilities go through a checklist of fall protection issues. Fall prevention in nursing home and assisted living facilities is a major focus for quality improvement in patient safety. The best way to prevent falls is to complete a thorough fall risk assessment on the first day of admission at any nursing home or assisted living facility. Significantly, these fall protection plans must be implemented to reduce the number of falls or the risks of future falls. Despite the best efforts of assisted living facilities and nursing homes, the elderly or infirm are susceptible to falls, which cause serious injuries.

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Samuel Dale Graham was driving his SUV; his wife, Sharla Kay, and their two children were passengers. Another motorist, Alisa Prueitt, drove off the road, over-corrected and struck the Graham SUV, which rolled over.

Samuel, 37 at the time, suffered fatal blunt-force trauma injuries and died at the scene. At the time of his death, he was working full time for a hospital and part time for a private healthcare company.

Sharla Kay was 33 at the time and suffered spinal fractures at C-1, C-6 and T-3 as well as facial cuts. She missed several months of work and continues to suffer pain and limited range of motion in her neck and back. Her medical bills totaled $11,700.

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A Kentucky Appellate Court has held that an admission agreement’s arbitration clause signed by the resident’s son at the time of her nursing home admission did not apply to the son’s subsequent wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home and its operators.

John Cox III signed an agreement to admit his mother Elizabeth Cox to the Kindred Nursing Centers. The agreement included a clause, as do many nursing home agreements, authorizing arbitration of claims against the nursing homes. After Elizabeth died, her son brought a lawsuit against the nursing home and its operators claiming wrongful death and other claims of nursing home abuse and resulting damages.

The nursing home and its operators moved to compel arbitration. The trial judge granted the motion as to all claims except the plaintiff’s wrongful death action.

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A Pennsylvania Superior court held that a trial judge did not violate the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) by refusing to split up a plaintiff’s wrongful death and survival claims arising out of the death of a nursing home resident. Margaret Tuomi was a resident at Kenric Manor, an assisted living facility. She developed contractures, pressure sores, a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, infection from a skin break and other medical issues. She was treated at a hospital. After she was transferred to Extendicare Health Facilities nursing home, she developed additional health problems from which she later died.

Tuomi’s husband and the administrator of her estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her beneficiaries and a survival action against Extendicare and Kendric Manor. Extendicare moved the trial court to compel arbitration under an arbitration agreement signed by Tuomi’s husband when she was admitted to Extendicare.

The trial judge held that Tuomi’s wrongful death beneficiaries, who were non-signatories to the arbitration agreement, could not be compelled to arbitrate. The trial judge also held that under Pennsylvania’s procedural law, the case brought as a wrongful death claim and survival action could be consolidated and in fact were required to be consolidated and remained together in court.

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Marjorie Stearns, 89, suffered from dementia. She lived full time in a nursing home. The nursing home records showed that Marjorie had fallen at the nursing home. The nursing home initiated safety measures to protect against any future falls.

This Illinois Appellate case analyzed the legal concept of duty. It described two types of duties: one being the ordinary duty that all persons owe each other to guard against reasonably probable and foreseeable injuries that may arise as a consequence of an act and the second being an affirmative duty to act that arises as a result of a special relationship between one party and another.

In this case, the issue of duty was critical in that it had to be determined whether the ambulance service that was transporting the resident back from her dialysis treatment to the nursing home when she suffered a head injury had a duty to protect her.

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