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WA State Man Sues for Nursing Home Abuse in Wife’s Freezing Death

Longview, WA Resident Sues Care Home for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Wife’s Freezing Death

nursing home abuseA Longview, WA resident is suing a dementia-care home for nursing home abuse and neglect after his wife fell outside in December and froze to death.

Donald Shelton, who is almost 90 years old, and his daughter Dawn Johnson, have filed a nursing home abuse and negligence lawsuit against the Canterbury Gardens Alzheimer’s Care Center after Norma Shelton, 88, fell into an enclosed courtyard on the evening of December 8th and died. According to the Cowlitz County Coroner’s Office, Mrs. Shelton’s cause of death was hypothermia – the night she died, the temperature outside was 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of Mrs. Shelton’s surviving family, as well as damages for unspecified emotional distress for the “pain, confusion and panic” Mrs. Shelton experienced.

According to the facility’s records, a required midnight bed check was not performed, which meant that Mrs. Shelton was not found to be missing until after 1 AM. Washington State has already found Canterbury Gardens at fault for Mrs. Shelton’s death, citing the facility for a lack of alarms on doors and windows as is required by state law for dementia-care facilities. State officials have begun the process of revoking the facility’s license, but Canterbury officials say they are cooperating with state representatives and believe they can fix the state’s concerns.

Mr. Shelton has requested that a hearing in the nursing home abuse lawsuit be expedited, citing his age and the fact that several of his friends have died after their spouses passed away. A hearing for the expedite request has been scheduled for February 5th.

The Sheltons were married for 69 years, and knew each other for 71. Donald Shelton is taping his testimony for the nursing home abuse case, because he is uniquely qualified to testify about the emotional damages and suffering due to his wife’s loss. He says that he filed the nursing home abuse lawsuit, not because he needed the money, but because he does not want this kind of death to happen again.

3 Actions to Take Against Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina

There are many ways in which nursing homes can be held responsible for injuring others as a result of their negligence, abuse, exploitation, false imprisonment, or violations of criminal statutes, as well as violations of regulations pertaining to their licensing, maintenance, and general operation.

An act of abuse, neglect or exploitation of roulete an older person might give rise to one or all of the following types of proceedings:

  • an investigation and finding by an adult protective services agency or the regulatory agency for nursing homes (in South Carolina it is the Department of Environmental Control);
  • a civil cause of action for damages; and/or
  • a criminal prosecution.

These three types of proceedings have different objectives: the objective of a protective services investigation is to provide immediate help and relief to the victim and prevent further harm; the civil action is to seek compensation for damages; and the criminal prosecution is when the state seeks to punish the harmful conduct.

Under South Carolina law, physical abuse includes: slapping, hitting, kicking, biting, choking, pinching, burning, drugging a patient or confining a patient to control behavior. SEC. 43-35-10 A person does not have to inflict abuse to be held responsible for the physical abuse. One is culpable by allowing it to take place without doing anything to stop or prevent the abuse.

The Strom Law Defends Victims of Nursing Home Abuse

If your loved one has faced nursing home abuse, you do not have to suffer in silence. Contact the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm for a free, confidential consultation. We are here to help. 803.252.4800.

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