ARP Partners Susan Hannigan and Anne Nelson get Not Guilty Verdict in Long Term Care Case

ARP Partners Susan Hannigan and Anne Nelson get "Not Guilty" Verdict in Long Term Care Case

     On November 17, 2010, a jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County
returned a defense verdict in favor of the defendant, an independent
living facility, on both survival and wrongful death claims. An 83
year-old resident at defendant’s facility was found on the floor of her
apartment by a daughter who claimed that her mother had remained
undiscovered on the floor for a period of two to three days based on the
number of newspapers that had accumulated outside the door of the
apartment.  The resident, who had an indwelling Foley catheter, was
hospitalized acutely for treatment of a urinary tract infection, sepsis
and rhabdomyolysis.  During the admission, she experienced a massive
gastrointestinal bleed and died three weeks later.

     Plaintiff alleged that defendant voluntarily undertook a duty
to perform well being checks on its residents by implementing a
voluntary, resident-run daily check program within the facility and by
having an established procedure for checking on residents which required
a resident check when newspapers were outside of a resident’s door at a
time when they should not be present.  Plaintiff claimed that the
defendant was negligent in implementing a voluntary daily check program
that in practice did not provide daily checks, and in failing to check
on the resident when newspapers were outside her door.
     It was defendant’s position that, as an independent living
facility, it did not owe its residents a duty to perform well-being
checks; and even if it did voluntarily undertake some duty by virtue of
its resident-run daily check program and/or procedure for checking on
residents when newspapers were outside a resident’s door, it was not
negligent in carrying out that duty, insofar as it was not on notice of
any concern about the decedent until the daughter contacted its
receptionist and asked for assistance. Defendant also contended that
decedent’s death was caused by treatment of her unrelated respiratory
symptoms with steroid therapy which aggravated her chronic gastritis and
resulted in a bleeding gastric ulcer, hemorrhage and death.


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