Illinois Jury Finds in Favor of Nursing Home when Resident is Injured Falling from Wheelchair

Frank Hegyi, 91, was a hospice care resident with dementia at the defendant Fair Oaks Health Care Center in Crystal Lake, Ill. On June 10, 2008, he was sitting in his wheelchair in the facility’s dining room when he stood up and fell, fracturing his right femoral neck. He was hospitalized and died of unrelated causes on June 23, 2008.

His family sued the nursing home for negligence in violation of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, maintaining that the nursing home chose not place a “lap buddy” on his wheelchair. Damages were sought for pain and suffering.

The defendant nursing home argued that Hegyi was supervised appropriately and he was in the main dining room of the nursing home where he could be viewed frequently by the staff. The nursing home also argued that the use of lap buddy – essentially a cushion going across the wheelchair – was not required and its use had been decreased pursuant to restraint reduction requirements because state and federal law prohibit the nursing home from using restraints that could not be removed by the nursing home resident.

The defendant nursing home also asserted that Hegyi could have potentially removed a lap buddy even if it had been in place, so it probably would not have prevented his fall and subsequent injuries.

The jury agreed that the nursing home was not at fault and found in favor of it. Before trial, the demand to settle the case was $275,000. The jury was asked to return a verdict of $200,000 in closing argument. The only offer made by the nursing home to settle the case before trial was $50,000.

At trial the Hegyi family hired experts in nursing and orthopedics. The defendant engaged expert testimony in internal medicine and nursing home administration. In addition, the plaintiff’s treating physicians and nursing home administrator testified on his behalf.

Estate of Frank Hegyi v. Wisconsin Illinois Senior Housing, Inc. d/b/a Fair Oaks Health Care Center, No. 10 L 205 (McHenry County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling nursing home abuse cases and medical malpractice cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Calumet City, Blue Island, Antioch, Barrington, Deerfield, Franklin Park, Wheeling, Vernon Hills, Wheaton, Melrose Park, Grayslake, Hinsdale, Homewood, Itasca, Lansing, New Lenox and Des Plaines, Ill.

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