Failure to prevent fall

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Case in Point

December 18, 2012

Failure to prevent fall 

The estate of a nursing home resident who died of complications from a fall sued the home, alleging its staff failed to meet the standard of care by complying with the resident’s fall-prevention plan. Suit also alleged inadequate staffing. The jury awarded $645,000. St. Aubin v. Claridge Imperial Ltd.

Emilio Opio, 81, lived at the Imperial Grove nursing home. A fall risk, he had a care plan in place that called for assistive measures including chair cushions and a wheelchair alarm. More than a year after his admission, Opio was left unsupervised and without any assistive devices at a table in the home’s dining room. Staff did not lock his wheelchair or push it close to the table. Opio fell from his wheelchair, suffering a subdural hematoma. He underwent a craniotomy but never regained his former health status. He suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism several months after the fall. He is survived by four adult children.

One of Opio’s daughters, on behalf of his estate, sued the nursing home, alleging its staff failed to meet the standard of care by complying with Opio’s fall-prevention plan. Suit also alleged inadequate staffing.

The jury awarded $645,000. Posttrial motions are pending.

Citation: St. Aubin v. Claridge Imperial Ltd., No. 07010302 (Ill., Cook Co. Cir. Nov. 2, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member John J. Perconti and Patricia Gifford, both of Chicago.

Plaintiff experts: Mark Lachs, gerontology, New York City; and Kathleen Martin, nursing, Short Hills, N.J.

Defense expert: Bruce Naughton, geriatrics, Buffalo, N.Y.


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