Type of action: Nursing home negligence
Injuries alleged: Bruising and lacerations
Name of case: Confidential
Case no.: Confidential
Tried before: n/a
Name of judge: n/a
Special damages: Less than $5,000
Date obtained: October 2005
Experts: Linda Ledray, Ph.D., sexual assault, Minneapolis, MN; Laura Slaughter, M.D., sexual assault, Nipomo, CA; Ann Burgess, Ph.D., Boston, MA
Plaintiff’s attorneys: Steve Gugenheim, Raleigh
Person submitting: Steve Gugenheim
Description: Resident was 96 years old and had been a resident of defendant Nursing Home from 1993 through Oct. 6, 2001. Resident had advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, was non-ambulatory, and required total assistance of the nursing home staff for all activities of daily living.
According to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, a CNA who was caring for Resident discovered bruising on Resident’s inner thigh and vaginal area. The CNA reported the bruising twice that day to Charge Nurse 1, a nurse responsible for Resident’s care. Another CNA noticed the bruising that day while giving Resident a shower. That CNA also reported the bruising to Charge Nurse 1. Charge Nurse 1 never examined the bruise and failed to make an entry in the nurse’s notes to record what the CNAs reported. No other nurses at the Nursing Home documented or mentioned on Oct. 5, 2001 the bruises found on Resident. There was no mention in the Resident’s chart on Oct. 5, 2001 about the bruising.
The resident’s daughter examined the bruise and immediately reported to Charge Nurse 3 that the resident had been “molested.” Charge Nurse 3 agreed that resident’s daughter may have been molested.
A rape investigation was eventually commenced and an examination revealed bruises and tears to the resident’s vaginal area.
Although the investigation focused on two suspects, a visitor and a former resident, no perpetrator was ever arrested and the criminal case closed, according to plaintiff’s counsel.
The resident died in December 2003 from causes unrelated to her injuries. She had been living in another nursing home since October 2001. Resident’s daughter filed a lawsuit against the Nursing Home. In the lawsuit against the Nursing Home, claims were made for negligence, res ipsa, and for punitive damages. Plaintiff claimed that the Nursing Home failed to provide for the safety and security of the residents and that such failure was a proximate cause of the injuries to Resident. Plaintiff retained three of the leading sexual assault experts in the country who all testified that the injuries to Resident were more than likely caused by a sexual assault.
Defendant denied that Resident had been sexually assaulted. Instead, Defendant claimed that Resident’s injuries were likely caused by incontinent care, or self-inflicted by the Resident when she threw her legs over the side rails of the bed or by masturbation. Defendant’s experts acknowledged that the injuries were not likely caused by a fecal disimpaction because there was no evidence that a fecal disimpaction was done or needed.
Resident had a history of constantly moving around in her bed and repeatedly throwing her legs over the padded side rails of her bed.
Defendant also claimed that Resident fully recovered from her injuries and that her advanced Alzheimer’s Disease precluded her from knowing what happened to her.
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