Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Carolyn Cauffiel was 75 and had a history of pneumonia. She was admitted to the Heartland Rehabilitation and Care Center for a five-month period.

While she was there, she complained of breathing problems. An attending nursing home nurse came to assist her but did not auscultate her lung sounds. Auscultate is a Latin verb to listen to the internal sounds of the body, usually using a stethoscope. Auscultation is done for the purposes of examining the circulatory and respiratory systems (heart and breath sounds), as well as listening to the gastrointestinal system for sounds.

The nurse then told her colleague that Cauffiel’s lungs were clear and that she was “faking it” (breathing problems).

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The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a request for a new trial in the wrongful death case against a nursing home where a doctor failed to recognize and diagnose the symptoms of a pulmonary embolism.

The case arose from Mary Sikora’s request for a new trial. She claimed that the nursing home doctor did not realize that the symptoms experienced by her late husband, Chris Sikora, were caused by a pulmonary embolism, not bacterial pneumonia.

The Illinois Appellate Court was split on whether a Golden Rule argument asking the jurors to view the situation from the perspective of the defendant was merely “technically improper” or should be treated as “never appropriate.”

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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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Harry Cohoon was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer and was recovering at Victoria Healthcare Center while he underwent treatment from various injuries he had suffered.

For 19 days, he did well at the healthcare center. On the 20th day of his residency there, he was observed having difficulty swallowing thin liquids. After evaluation, his diet was changed.

His niece, Donna Cochrum sued the healthcare center contending that the change was not properly communicated to the residency kitchen staff. Consequently, that night he was served a dinner that did not conform to his new diet.

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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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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 aftermath of Hurricane Irma was responsible for knocking out the air-conditioning at a Florida nursing home. As of Sept. 13, 2017, eight patients at that facility had died related to the heat and humidity when temperatures were extremely high. In fact, the state said four of the deceased nursing home residents had body temperatures between 107 degrees Fahrenheit and 109 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration suspended the license of the rehabilitation center at Hollywood Hills, which was the nursing home residence for these nine individuals who have since died.

The nursing home official said they used coolers, fans, ice and other means to try to cool the patients, although these efforts were unsuccessful.

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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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