Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect - Articles

Family Awarded $16 Million in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

February 19, 2015

A jury has awarded a family more than $16 million for their wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home company in Southlake, Texas.

The family of Sam Graham was awarded $16.7 million for their lawsuit against Senior Living Properties, which allowed employee Alisa Prueitt to drive home drunk, causing a fatal wreck in 2013.

Graham, 37, was killed in the crash as Prueitt was driving home from her job at Hamilton Healthcare Center, which is owned by Senior Living Properties. Three family members were also injured in the wreck.

Jurors determined that Senior Living Properties was negligent in allowing Prueitt drive home drunk, which was preceded by her showing up for work intoxicated months before the wreck.

“The jury's verdict sends the message to Senior Living Properties, LLC and hopefully others that companies who have the privilege of doing business in our communities must also accept their responsibilities to protect the public's safety,” said Laura Brown, an attorney for the family, in an email.

Prueitt is sentenced to 18 years for intoxication manslaughter and 10 years for intoxication assault.


Family Sues Nursing Home for Man Who Died by Setting Bed on Fire with Cigarette

December 22, 2014

A family is suing a nursing home in Gretna, Louisiana, for a man who died by setting a fire while smoking in bed.

According to the lawsuit, filed by Beatrice Addison on behalf of the estate of Marshall Miller, Miller died in a fire caused by smoking in bed because of Maison Deville Nursing Home's lax policies for smoking.

Miller smoked without any supervision, despite being diagnosed with schizophrenia and considered unable to take care of himself.

The lawsuit names the nursing home as a defendant, in addition to its insurer. It alleges wrongful death, failing to properly monitor the deceased, failing to properly monitor the deceased's smoking, failing to see what should have been seen, failing to use caution, failing to properly care for the decedent, failing to see what should have been seen, failing to treat the deceased in a manner consistent with nursing home practice, failing to provide adequate staffing, failing to provide adequate certified nursing aides, failing to properly administer the nursing home and failing to live up to proper fire safety standards.

The lawsuit seeks damages for deprivation of companionship, grief, mental anguish, distress and loss of nurture and guidance.


Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed against Agency for Disabled People

November 19, 2014

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by an Oklahoma woman accuses a center for disabled people of causing her brother's death.

Shannon Adams filed the lawsuit against Renaissance Management Group of Tulsa on behalf of her brother, Mitch Boles, who died after being transferred from the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center (SORC), which was closed in 2012 by the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services.

Boles, a mentally ill 51-year-old who was diagnosed as having the mind of an 18-month-old, was relocated to a community home in Oklahoma City run by Renaissance Management Group of Tulsa.

According to Adams, they made several mistakes while her brother was under their care out of improper training, eventually leading to his death.

“He was unconscious and then they poured water down his throat,” Adams said. “He was put in ICU on a ventilator and he died.”


Nine Employees of a NY Nursing Home Face Charges Over Resident Death

June 05, 2014

Nine employees of a nursing home in New York are facing criminal charges this week after the death of a resident whose ventilator was improperly connected and whose distress alarms were ignored for hours.

The incident occurred at the Medford Multicare Center for Living, which is located on Long Island, about 40 miles east of New York City.

The victim, a 72-year-old woman who was a temporary resident of the nursing care facility, died during the night in October 2012 after a respiratory therapist failed to connect her to a ventilator.

The therapist then ignored distress alarms coming from the woman's room, despite walking past the room several times while the alarms were going off.

Police charged the respiratory therapist with criminally negligent homicide. Six other nurses and nursing care aides were indicted on lesser charges for ignoring the alarms.

The company running the nursing home, as well as the administrator and the director of respiratory therapy at the facility, were also indicted for allegedly attempting to cover up the incident.


Autistic Man Branded with Kitchen Tool Sues State-Run Residential Facility

May 20, 2013

A man who suffers from severe autism is suing a New York City residential facility where an employee branded him with a heated potato masher, according to court documents.

The suit, which is set to be filed in Bronx Supreme Court by 24-year-old Eduardo Sandoval, names the Leake & Watts state residential facility and the employees who allegedly branded him as defendants.

The incident occurred in June 2012 when Sandoval was a resident at the home. Two employees, Wendell Chavies and Asialone Edwards, allegedly heated a metal potato masher and pressed it into the flesh on the left side of Sandoval's torso. He has a permanent scar as a result of the incident.

The lawsuit accuses the facility of negligence in failing to properly train and supervise employees.


Stun Gun Lawsuit Settled by Alameda County

December 20, 2012

Alameda County agreed to a $160,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed by an 18-year-old disabled California woman who was tasered by sheriff's deputies in 2011.

The suit was filed by Sapreena Fowler, who claimed she was forcibly restrained during a confrontation on February 8 at a mental health care center in Castro Valley.

Sheriff's deputies reported that Fowler was being aggressive with staff members, before spitting on the deputies and attempting to fight them off.

One of the deputies stunned Fowler, who has the mental capacity of a four year old, twice with a taser.

Fowler was arrested for resisting arrest and battery against an officer, but the charges were dropped after she spent two nights in jail.

The money from the settlement will be placed in a trust for Fowler's benefit.


Illinois Nursing Home Sued Over Maggots in Patient's Ear

December 06, 2012

A nursing home in Illinois is facing a lawsuit filed by the family of a patient who had maggots in her ear, according to court documents.

The lawsuit was filed by the family of Catherine McCann, 90, on November 28 against Lutheran Home, a nursing care facility in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

An employee at the nursing home was caring for McCann, when she noticed a maggot crawl out of her ear. She immediately reported the incident and McCann was taken to a local hospital, where she had to have 57 maggots removed from her ear.

The lawsuit alleges that McCann sustained injuries due to elder abuse and neglect at the home and that the staff failed to provide "a reasonable standard of professional care."

The lawsuit is seeking $50,000 in damages.

McCann's family has since moved her to a different nursing care center.


Assaults Uncovered at California Group Home

August 06, 2012

Nearly a dozen instances of assault have been uncovered at a California group home for the disabled, according to an investigation by California Watch, and investigative journalism group.

The incidents occurred last fall, when a caregiver used a stun gun on residents of the state-run Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge, one of only five board-and-care facilities in the state serving patients with cerebral palsy and severe autism.

The patients sustained painful burns after being shocked by a high-voltage stun gun wielded by a caregiver at the group home.

Although the center's own in-house police force - its Office of Protective Services - received an anonymous tip that an employee was using a stun gun on patients, it did not arrest the employee. In fact, the employee wasn't even interviewed about the incidents until a full nine days after the tip was made.

The employee was eventually charged with possession of a concealed weapon and received three years' probation and 20 days of electric monitoring.

California Watch's investigation examined internal police forces at state centers, determining that they routinely failed to conduct basic police investigations into reports of abuse.


Florida Medicaid Faces Two Lawsuits

March 15, 2012

Two lawsuits have been filed against Florida Medicaid for placing disabled children in nursing homes rather than paying for home care, according to court documents.

The lawsuits allege that Florida Medicaid has placed nearly 250 sick and disabled children in nursing care facilities, instead of providing coverage that would allow the children to receive home care. According to documents filed with the court, the plaintiffs are claiming that nearly 3,300 sick children remain at home without the necessary medical care because they do not want to live in a nursing home.

Both lawsuits claim that Florida Medicaid's refusal to pay for home care is in violation the Americans With Disabilities Act and the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision Olmstead vs. L.C., mandating that states are required to offer medical care to the mentally disabled in the least restrictive setting available.

Representatives for Florida Medicaid have not commented on the lawsuits.


Caregiver Arrested for Throwing TV Remote at Elderly Man

March 15, 2012

A female caregiver was arrested on Tuesday after allegedly throwing a TV remote control at her 77-year-old client, the Harris County, Texas, Sheriff's Office said.

Sheriffs arrested 47-year-old Lynn Creager Butler and charged her with injury to an elderly individual.

Officers were called to the home by the elderly patient, who told them that he was sitting on his couch when Butler threw the TV remote at him, hitting him in the nose.

Butler is being held at the Harris County Jail pending a $5,000 bond. She claims she is innocent of the charges.


Caretaker Agrees to Annul Marriage to Dementia Patient

December 01, 2011

A woman who married an 87-year-old dementia patient in Texas agreed to annul the marriage in exchange for a payment of $10,000.

Jewell Hall, who suffers from dementia, hired 58-year-old Marjorie Messer in February to provide in-home nursing care for him. She married him a month later.

Adult Protective Services stepped in to take over Hall's care in April, transferring him to a nursing home and reporting Messer to the police.

Messer, who is facing criminal charges for theft from a vulnerable adult, has agreed to give up all claims to Hall's estate in exchange for the $10,000.

Messer maintains that she only married Hall out of concern for his welfare.


Nurse Arrested for Sexual Battery of Patients

October 14, 2011

A male nurse has been arrested and charged with sexual battery of two patients at a medical center in Osceola, Florida, police said.

Police arrested 49-year-old Shean Gavlin on Wednesday and charged him with two counts of sexual battery for allegedly forcing a female patient to perform sexual acts in exchange for pain medication and inappropriately touching another female patient at the Osceola Regional Medical Center.

He is currently being held on $20,000 bond.

An investigation into the incidents is being conducted by Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration.


Florida Not Monitoring Nursing Homes

May 02, 2011

A report published in the Miami Herald on Sunday reveals that the Florida Health Care Administration has failed to properly monitor nursing homes.

The newspaper reported several incidents involving residents dying at poorly run assisted-living facilities throughout the state. In one case, a 74-year-old man died after being given a bath in scalding water, and in another a resident suffering from Alzheimer's was attacked and killed by an alligator after wandering away from the nursing home.

These and other complaints of abuse were not investigated properly, the newspaper said. Of 70 cases that warranted closure of a nursing home, only seven were actually shut down.

That means that residents at Florida's 2,850 assisted-living facilities are at risk of abuse and neglect. In fact, deaths resulting from abuse and neglect occur on average once a month.

Despite the fact that the number of inspections conducted by the Health Care Administration dropped by 90 percent in the six years prior to 2008, Florida lengthened the period of time between inspections to a full two years.


Nursing Home Director Charged with Neglect in Overdoses

April 20, 2011

The director of a nursing home in Chicago has been charged with criminal neglect and obstruction of justice for allegedly failing to take action after discovering an employee was overdosing patients with morphine, prosecutors say.

Director Penny Whitlock, 62, is facing criminal prosecution in connection with an investigation of six deaths at the Woodstock Residence nursing facility in 2006.

The investigation revealed that nurse Marty Himebaugh, 62, was allegedly administering overdoses of morphine and other medication to patients at the home.

Whitlock did nothing to stop the overdoses, investigators said.

Himebaugh is currently awaiting trial on charges of criminal neglect and improper dispensation of morphine.

Prosecutors believe the pair's actions were intended to control the behavior troublesome patients.


Nursing Home Workers Arrested for Abusing Patient

April 08, 2011

Three employees at a Pennsylvania nursing home were arrested Wednesday for the alleged physical and emotional abuse of a 78-year-old patient at the care facility, state officials said.

The alleged abuse occurred at Quadrangle Sunrise Senior Living in Haverford. The family of Lois McCallister, the abuse victim, installed a hidden camera in her room at the facility after they suspected she was being abused.

Police arrested 21-year-old Tyrina Griffin, 19-year-old Ayesha Muhammad and 22-year-old Samirah Traynham and charged them with assault, aggravated assault, harassment, neglect of a care-dependent adult and other crimes.

McCallister left the facility and is now residing with her family.

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is investigating the nursing home for other instances of abuse.


Pearl Harbor Survivor Abused by Caretaker

January 28, 2011

A Pearl Harbor survivor was abused and neglected by an in-home caretaker, police say.

Police charged Milagros Angeles, 63, with false imprisonment, theft, forgery and elder abuse on Thursday after finding Arnold Bauer, a Navy veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor, alone in his El Cajon home. There was trash piled in every room, officials said, and his bank account had been drained of thousands of dollars.

A search of Angeles' home uncovered $9,000 that she had allegedly stolen from Bauer by writing herself checks from his account. She is being held on $1 million bail.

Bauer is suffering from dementia and prostate cancer. He is now being cared for at the VA Hospital in San Diego.


Owners of Group Home Held Liable for Fire

January 20, 2011

The owners of a Missouri group home for the mentally ill have been held liable in civil court for a fire that killed 11 people.

A judge found that the November 2006 fire at the Anderson Guest House was "foreseeable," and held property owners Robert and Laverne DuPont liable for $6.4 million in civil damages.

An attorney for the plaintiffs said the DuPonts did not have liability insurance on the home and will have to pay the judgment with their personal assets.

The home was operated by the Joplin River of Life Ministries, which is no longer in operation.

The DuPonts did not face criminal charges in connection with the fire, which was ruled accidental. However, the couple was convicted of violating Medicare rules following a federal investigation.


Police Trying to Identify Disabled Abuse Victims

January 07, 2011

Police in California are attempting to identify disabled women and their attackers from videos depicting sexual abuse by various employees at residential care facilities.

The videos, which were dropped off in March at a Sheriff's headquarters in Monterey Park, contain nearly 100 hours of footage of sexual assaults on severely disabled women by what appear to be male employees of nursing care centers. The women in the videos range from about 20 to 40 years of age.

It took investigators months to produce grainy images and composite sketches of the attackers, which were released on Thursday in the hopes of obtaining the public's help in identifying the suspects and the care facilities where the attacks took place.

The package contained a note from the person who dropped it off saying that he was hired to delete all files from the hard drive of a computer. He copied the video files before deleting the hard drive, however, and turned them over to police.

Police are hopeful that the person who delivered the package will come forward with more information that will lead to the identification and arrest of the suspects.

Investigators are also hopeful the public can help identify the residential care facilities where the attacks occurred, which will lead to identification of the victims.


Man Kills Wife at Nursing Home

November 22, 2010

A man killed his wife of 70 years by shooting her as she lay in her bed at a California nursing home, police said.

Roy Charles Laird, 88, killed his 86-year-old wife, Clara, who was a resident at the Country Villa Health Care Center in Seal Beach.

The Lairds' daughter described the incident as a "mercy killing," saying her mother had been suffering from dementia for over five years.

Roy Laird had cared for his wife himself at home until she was admitted to the nursing home three months ago. Since then, he has been visiting her three times a day to feed her her meals.

Police were called to the nursing facility at around noon on Sunday, where they found Clara dead. Her husband was arrested after handing police a .38-caliber revolver.


No Bail for Medicare Fraud Defendants

October 27, 2010

A federal magistrate in Miami, Florida, refused to set bail for a couple accused of defrauding Medicare for more than $200 million.

Lawrence Duran and Marianella Valera will not be released before trial because they are a flight risk, said U.S. Magistrate Andrea Simonton. According to court records, nearly $83 million that their mental health clinics fraudulently received since 2003 is still missing.

The couple faces up to 30 years in prison, if convicted. The magistrate ruled that there is a great risk that they will flee to Valera's native Peru if released on bond.

Duran and Valera have been accused of adjusting the diagnoses and medications of dementia and Alzheimer's patients to fraudulently bill for bogus therapy at clinics owned by their company, American Therapeutic Corp.

The couple allegedly formed another company called MedLink Professional Management Group to fraudulently receive Medicare funds from American Therapeutic. The funds were then distributed to Duran and Valera and their business associates.

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