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Colorado nursing home involved in wrongful death suit

Patricia M. Jarzobski

An incident involving a resident's death at a nursing home has resulted in a wrongful death lawsuit. The female resident died after falling from a chair lift. The family has claimed that the Colorado nursing home acted in a negligent manner. They are also seeking punitive damages in the case of this wrongful death.

The chain reaction took place when a maintenance worker's manager requested that he replace a safety clip on a chair lift, and he reportedly installed the wrong safety clip. The incident occurred when a nursing aid then utilized the chair lift to transfer the resident. During the transfer, the safety harness dropped and the resident fell straight to the floor.

In regard to the punitive damages the resident's family seeks, the nursing home has stated that punitive damages should not be a part of this case because it was purely an accident, and not from intentional negligence. The judge disagreed with the nursing home and determined that the maintenance worker acted negligently, because he had knowledge that installing an improper safety clip could subject a resident to danger. Furthermore, it is known that the worker took a clip from a different chair model and placed it on the chair lift that caused the resident's death.

A resident should not be subjected to injury or death while under the care of a nursing facility. In this case, the death was undoubtedly as a result of negligence caused by a worker at the nursing home. Families of residents who have died, at the hands of a negligent nursing home worker or facility, retain the right to file a wrongful death claim against the facility. As with this matter, the families also have the right to seek punitive damages under Colorado law.

Source: mcknights.com, Nursing home faces possible punitive damages for maintenance supervisor's role in chair-lift death, Tim Mullaney, Oct. 17, 2013

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