Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
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Elkhorn, WI

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Care facility sued for resident’s death

Personal care homes are designed and legally-required to assure the safety of their residents. Failing to comply with this standard of care, however, can have fatal consequences for its vulnerable clientele. In one tragic case, a personal injury lawsuit was filed against Sun Prairie, Wisconsin memory care facility for the death of an 84-year-old patient from hypothermia last December.

According to the lawsuit, the resident walked out of her room late at night. The resident froze to death on one of last year’s coldest nights.

She was able to leave the building because the facility’s alarms were inactivated when the staff left the building’s front doors propped opened, according to the complaint. The plaintiffs also charged that the facility’s staff brought their children to the facility during overnight work, which included the night of the resident’s death.

The state’s Department of Health Services found that the facility lacked supervision to ensure residents received proper care at the time. DHS allowed the facility to continue to admit residents after these issues were resolved.

The victim’s family filed the lawsuit last month in Dane County Circuit Court seeking punitive damages because of the wrongful death and loss of companionship. The plaintiffs said that it did not want other families to undergo a similar calamity.

The facility stated that it continues to work on a DHS correction plan on safety and safeguarding patient privacy. It also claimed that DHS found that other allegations were unsubstantiated.

A complaint investigation was conducted at the facility on April 11, but no noncompliance citations were issued. However, DHS fined it $650.00 in late April for four code deficiencies that included failure to keep records of patients who were at risk of leaving the facility. The Sun Prairie Police Department also commenced an investigation of this facility for abuse allegations on April 13, which is ongoing.

An attorney can help victims and families who suffer the loss of a loved one seek compensation when someone does not meet their legal requirements or their duty of care. Legal representation can help assure that evidence is found and a cause of action is timely filed.

Source: The Sun Prairie Star News, “Family files lawsuit against Faith Gardens,” By Chris Mertes, May 1, 2018

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