Civil lawsuit filed against Ohio nursing home and parent company

July 12 , 2005

The daughter of a woman who died last month after sunbathing in 90-plus-degree heat at an Ohio nursing home has filed a civil lawsuit against the nursing home, Heartland of Waterville, and its parent company, HCR Manor Care.

The now deceased resident was 49 at the time of her death and had multiple sclerosis, so she was unable to move on her own. After lying outside for several hours on a concrete patio she suffered from hyperthermia and died, her body temperature recorded at 109 degrees by the Lucas County Coroner's Office.

The lawsuit was filed naming unspecified defendants who were employees at the nursing home, alleging they were responsible for the care of the deceased resident. Seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $13 million, the attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the woman's family said a jury would be asked for a higher figure, in part, to send a message that changes in nursing home care are essential.

Last week, the Ohio Department of Health cited the nursing home for failure to monitor the resident while she was lying in the heat, as well as failing to develop a plan of care for sunbathing. The report said the nursing home staff exercises poor judgment and ignored facility policies by allowing her to sunbathe in extreme heat and humidity. The temperature ranged from 93 to 99 degrees with a heat index temperature ranging from 99 to 100 degrees on the day of her death.

Her surviving, and only, daughter said she filed the wrongful death complaint on behalf of herself and on behalf of her mother's mother and father hoping litigation would force positive changes in nursing home care. After the Ohio Attorney General's Office completes its investigation the chief of the special units division of the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office, John Wegilan, said an investigation into the resident's death would commence.

Wegilan said the case will be reviewed for possible wrongdoing on the part of the nursing home staff, and possible charges could range from nursing home abuse to nursing home neglect to involuntary manslaughter, depending upon what degree of recklessness is discovered. The nursing home facility said it has a policy against commenting on pending litigation, but that the company has a long history of delivery quality care.

For more information on Ohio's nursing homes, contact us to confer with a Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer.

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