Widow says nursing home's negligence allowed husband's repeated falls

Marilyn Tennissen Nov. 28, 2007, 4:58am

Dan Packard

The widow of a nursing home resident claims that because physicians and staff at the facility failed to properly supervise her husband, he fell numerous times and sustained injuries that ultimately led to his death.

Onita L. Bennett, individually and as representative of the estate of Elwood H. Bennett, deceased, filed a medical malpractice suit against Pine Forest Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers and others in Jefferson County District Court on Nov. 26.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, Elwood Bennett was a patient at Pine Forest. Defendants, including the center and Dr. Syed Anwar, owed a duty to provide Bennett with proper medical care.

"The standard of care required both the nursing home and Dr. Syed Anwar to ensure that Mr. Bennett was adequately monitored and that adequate safeguards were in place to prevent falls from occurring," the petition states. "All defendants breached this standard of care."

The plaintiff claims these breaches allowed Bennett to remain unprotected and unsupervised, which proximately resulted in his experiencing multiple falls.

"For example, on Oct. 13, 2005, Mr. Bennett was allowed to go to another resident's room unattended and was allowed to try to go to the bathroom by himself. He fell during the attempt," the petition states. "He was also allowed to fall again the following February."

The suit alleges that these falls would not have occurred if defendants had "made sure that Mr. Bennett was adequately supervised, restrained and monitored."

"These falls proximately resulted in Mr. Bennett's experiencing serious injuries including a fractured hip that required surgery, as well as a brain hemorrhage," the suit says. "These injuries proximately caused severe pain, disfigurement, cogitative decline and ultimate death."

Onita Bennett is seeking reasonable compensation for the damages suffered by Elwood Bennett including physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment, disfigurement and medical expenses. She is also asking for attorney fees, cost of suit, punitive damages and statutory damages.

In addition, the plaintiff alleges that defendants acted consciously and knowingly with fraud and/or conscious indifference to Bennett's rights, welfare and safety.

"Such acts or omissions of the defendants were so egregious, willful and wanton or conducted with malice or were grossly negligent that plaintiff is entitled to an award of exemplary damages …," the petition states.

Daniel W. Packard of Packard, Packard & LaPray is representing the plaintiff and is requesting a trial by jury.
The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield.

Case No. D180-812

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