June 25, 2019, PNLR News
Failure to train employees on safe use of transport van’s wheelchair lift
The wife and estate of a nursing home resident who died of injuries he suffered when his wheelchair tipped over while on a transport van’s wheelchair lift sued the nursing home and others. Suit alleged the defendants failed to train employees on the safe use of the lift, failed to timely summon emergency medical help, and failed to immobilize the man’s neck and take precautions before moving him. The jury awarded $6.75 million. Folder v. Christian Homes, Inc.
Robert Folder, a 78-year-old man who suffered from cognitive impairment, lived at the Lewis Memorial Christian Village of Springfield. While in the home’s parking lot, he was seated in his wheelchair on a transport van’s wheelchair lift when the lift malfunctioned. His wheelchair tipped over and he fell six inches to the pavement below, landing on his head and neck. Although Folder had slurred speech, weakness, and was unresponsive to light after the fall, a nurse untrained on taking spinal precautions wheeled him into the facility and moved him to his bed. Staff later summoned emergency medical services, and Folder was transferred to a hospital, where he was diagnosed as having multiple cervical fractures. He died 16 days later and is survived by his wife and two adult sons.
Folder’s wife, individually and on behalf of his estate, sued the nursing home, its parent organization, the nurse, and her nurse supervisor, alleging wrongful death, negligence, statutory violations, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiffs claimed failure to train employees on the safe use of the transport van’s wheelchair lift, failure to immediately summon emergency medical help, and failure to immobilize Folder’s neck and take precautions before moving him. Suit also alleged the nurses had acted in concert with each other to mislead investigators about what had happened.
The jury awarded $6.75 million.
Citation: Folder v. Christian Homes, Inc., No. 2016-L-226 (Ill. Cir. Ct. Sangamon Cnty. Jan. 24, 2019).
Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Richard Frazier and Kenneth Graves, both of Springfield, Ill.