7th Lawsuit Filed in Nursing Home Abuse Case

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Nov 12, 2010 in Nursing Home Injury or Death

Another lawsuit was filed in a notorious nursing home abuse case this week. The family of one of the victims claims that the operator of the home did not properly supervise its employees. The organization operates 230 facilities nationally, with three in West Virginia. And, although the abuse did not occur in West Virginia, the revelations shocked advocates and families of patients with Alzheimer's disease and dementia across the country.

The facility in question is located in a town of about 17,000 in southern Minnesota. Following a tip, the state's department of health launched an investigation into the activities of a handful of caregivers at the home. What they found was shocking.

According to the department's report, six women, led by two 20-year-olds, engaged in a pattern of abuse from January to May, 2008. The patients were subjected to both physical and sexual abuse, including being held down until they screamed and having their buttocks exposed to other patients.

The department charged the two leaders with assault, abuse of vulnerable adults, disorderly conduct by a caregiver and failure to report. The remaining four, all juveniles, were charged with failure to report.

Families of the victims filed civil suits, all claiming that the home's parent company failed to properly oversee the facility's employees. The suit filed earlier this week brought the total to seven -- again. The plaintiffs had filed in Minnesota, but the patient passed away in October. In Minnesota, a case like this dies with the victim. In South Dakota, however, where the organization is headquartered, the rule is different. The new claim was filed there.

Many family members were in the courtroom in October when the first of the two adults received her sentence, as they will be in December when the second woman is sentenced. The judge doubled the jail time recommended by the pre-sentencing investigation to 180 days (prison time is not possible under Minnesota law). The time is to be served in three stages of 60 days each, though the second two may be waived under certain conditions. The disorderly conduct charges are misdemeanors, and the woman was sentenced to 24 days of community service. The judge also ordered a psychological evaluation.

The judge cannot order the women to be registered as sex offenders under Minnesota law. He did order that the first woman not work with vulnerable adults during her probation.

Resource: Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, SD) "Lawsuit Filed in Minnesota Elder Abuse Case" 11/blog/10

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