Family Awarded $5 Million in Elder Abuse, Wrongful Death Claim
A family in Northern California was recently awarded $5 million in an elder abuse and wrongful death case they had filed on behalf of their deceased mother, Marjorie Fitzpatrick.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick, 90, had severe dementia and anxiety disorder. She resided in an assisted living facility in Mckinleyville, California. Mrs. Fitzpatrick escaped from the facility in September and was alone for 45 minutes before her absence was discovered by the facility’s staff. In that period, she fell and broke both her wrist and bones in her face. Subsequently, doctors found bleeding in her brain.
She died a month after the incident, in October 2013.
The suit was filed by Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s daughters, Kathleen Hermann, Valarie Monschke, and Paula Flannery against the facility, Timber Ridge Assisted Living. The jury awarded wrongful death damages of $2.1 million, elder abuse damages of $400,000 and punitive damages of $2.5 million.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick was described as being in a “manic” state when she escaped. She was known to need steady attention from a registered nurse and a regimen of anti-anxiety medications. Family lawyers stated that a registered nurse was not on the premises and that the anti-anxiety prescription frequently was not given.
Timber Ridge Assisted Living was accused at the trial of initially stating to the family that she was unattended for a smaller amount of time than the 45 minutes ultimately established.
The facility termed it a “tragic” loss and said they had made changes in light of the case.
Elder abuse is always a tragedy
This case highlights elder abuse. Elder abuse happens to 10% of people over 60 years old who live at home. But these are reported cases; it is estimated that for each case reported, 23 more occur that are never reported.
Elder abuse is defined as mistreatment of an older person. The mistreatment can be abandonment or neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or financial abuse (the taking of the elder person’s money or belongings).
Elder abuse often results in bruises or injuries whose causes are unexplained. The person can also become very stressed or very withdrawn. The perpetrators can be family members or other caregivers.
Wrongful death in New York and New Jersey
Wrongful death is a charge often brought when an individual could have made a claim for negligent conduct or damages had the individual lived.
New York also mandates that one or more individuals be alive caused a loss by the death, and that damages are recoverable from an entity against whom suit can be brought.
In New Jersey, a wrongful death case must be brought by family members.
The wrongful death statute of limitations in both New Jersey and New York is two years from the date the person died.
Attorneys helping victims of elder abuse
If you or a loved one has been injured by elder abuse or neglect, we can help. Any elder abuse case is a tragedy.
The Sanders Law Firm is highly experienced in elder abuse. We will review your case at no charge to you. Our seasoned team of attorneys can answer all your questions and help you plan your best course of action for securing compensation. Call toll-free 1.800.FAIR.PLAY today.
Additional “nursing home neglect” resources
- Araujo, Manny. “Jury Awards $5m in Elder Abuse, Wrongful Death Case.” Times Standard, January 19, 2017. http://www.times-standard.com/article/NJ/20170119/NEWS/170119746
- “Elder Abuse: Consequences.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/elderabuse/consequences.html