Disabled Resident’s Fall Leads to 400,000 for Surviving Family – Estate of Schrik v. Omole

The Illinois wrongful death lawsuit of Estate of Richard Schrik, deceased v. Oyindamola Omole, RN, No. 07 L 10740, involved claims that the decedent died as a result of nursing negligence. The nursing home resident fell while under the supervision of a nursing staff member and was the victim of a poor neurological exam by the same nurse.
Richard Schrik had been living at the Howe Development Center, a nursing residence run and operated by the State of Illinois for residents with developmental disabilities. Schrik had severe mental retardation and had been diagnosed with the mental abilities of a three or four year-old. He had been living in state institutions since 1977.
In 2002, Schrik was noted to be running around the residence facility, throwing garbage cans and acting out in general. While running around, Schrik fell and hit his head. His fall resulted in a severe fracture and the hyperextension of his neck, which resulted in a spinal cord injury.
At the time of Schrik’s fall, Oyindamola Omole, a registered nurse (RN), was the nurse in charge. While the wrongful death complaint did not hold Nurse Omole responsible for Schrik’s fall, it did include claims of nursing negligence regarding the exam she conducted immediately following the decedent’s fall.

At the Illinois wrongful death trial, the defense argued that the nurse conducted a thorough assessment of the patient following his fall, at which time the finding of a weak hand grasp was the only indication of his spinal cord injury. Likewise, the defense contended that Schrik’s injuries were permanent as soon as he fell and that there was nothing Nurse Omole could have done to improve or worsen his condition.
While both the plaintiff and defense experts agreed that Schrik’s cervical fracture and resulting spinal cord injury were caused by the fall, Schrik’s actual cause of death was the result of sepsis, gastrointestinal bleeding, and respiratory failure. Therefore, the plaintiff’s case was based not on allegations that Nurse Omole caused Schrik’s fall, but that her lack of a complete medical exam following his fall decreased his chance of survival.
The jury apparently agreed with the plaintiff’s medical experts and entered a $400,000 verdict against Nurse Omole. The wrongful death case was brought by Schrik’s older brother, who acted as Schrik’s guardian and then the administrator of his estate following Schrik’s death.
While the Illinois nursing malpractice lawsuit against Nurse Omole has been decided, an additional case against the Howe Development Center is still pending. The remaining lawsuit will go forward despite the closing of Howe Development Center in 2009.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois nursing home abuse cases for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Bellwood, LaGrange, Chicago’s Gage Park, and Stickney.
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