Protecting Loved Ones from Nursing Home Assault

Posted on April 24, 2020 in Personal Injury

When our loved ones reach the age where they can no longer live independently, we trust that the facilities which care for the elderly will provide our family members with a safe, nurturing, comfortable environment for them to live out the rest of their days.  Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and other care centers have an obligation to make sure that their residents are protected from harm with appropriate security and well-trained staff.

But sometimes those obligations are betrayed by violence against vulnerable adults by the facility’s own staff members.  The Arizona Republic recently reported on an assault on a 96-year-old resident at the Woodmark at Sun City assisted living and memory care facility.  A staff member got into a verbal confrontation with the resident, and when the resident threw water in a cup at the staff person, the staff person responded by hitting the resident in the face, leg, and back of the head.  The victim suffered bruising and swelling around her left eye according to the law enforcement reports and Maricopa County Attorney court filings charging the staff person with abuse against a vulnerable adult.  Surveillance video captured the attack, and the staff person confessed to the assault when she was confronted with the footage during a police interview.

This was unfortunately not a unique case or a one-time incident.  Gallagher & Kennedy currently represents the family of an 82-year-old resident in a memory care facility who was found unconscious in bed and died a few days later.  The Maricopa County Medical Examiner performed an autopsy and six weeks later came back with the cause of death: homicide.  The defenseless resident had been struck in the head with a blunt object four times while lying in bed, fracturing his skull and causing his death.  We suspect that a staff member was the murderer and are now litigating that case against the facility and its corporate owners.

Caring for elderly and vulnerable adults—especially those having dementia, Sundowner’s Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, and similar issues associated with aging—can be very difficult.  Elderly residents in care facilities can indeed sometimes be combative and difficult.  But a well-managed facility will have an adequate number of well-trained staff to deal with residents’ behavioral issues in a kind, calming manner.  In contrast, poorly-run facilities trying to keep down costs may have overworked, underpaid, and poorly-trained staff who not only may not provide the comfort and safety such residents need but may respond to a resident with violence.

Gallagher & Kennedy’s elder abuse and nursing home litigation attorneys have in the past and are currently handling litigation against elder care facilities for all types of negligent care, including cases involving assaults against residents.  Family members of a resident in a nursing home or other care facility who suspect or discover that their loved one has been abused, neglected, or improperly cared for should call the Phoenix nursing home abuse lawyers at Gallagher & Kennedy at (602) 530-8400 to discuss their potential case.