Bernhardt vs. Manor Care of Oak Lawn

Introduction:

This case involved a woman in the care of a nursing home. Apparently, she was injured while on a wheelchair. She sued the nursing home and management services company operating the home for damages.

Filed: August 12, 2016

Jurisdiction: Circuit Court of Illinois, Cook County

Category: Nursing Home; Negligence

Plaintiff: Marilyn A. Bernhardt

Defendant(s): Manor Care Of Oak Lawn; Manorcare Health Services

Summary:

The plaintiff in this case was a resident of a nursing home in Oak Lawn, Illinois. The name of the home was Manor Care of Oak Lawn. To move around the establishment, she required the use of a wheelchair. Apparently, at some point, she sustained various injuries while operating the chair. She believed and later claimed through her attorneys that those injuries and their corresponding damages were the fault of the home and the company that operated the home. This case is interesting because the underlying events causing the incident are not identified in the complaint. The suit merely claims that she was injured on a wheelchair and that the two companies should be liable. More on the plaintiff’s claims will be discussed in the next section.

Claims and Damages:

As mentioned above, the plaintiff sued both the nursing home and the company that operated the nursing home. The allegations generally provided that both were negligent and responsible for the injuries and damages that followed. Here is a summary of the most pertinent claims to this lawsuit applicable to both defendants: the defendants did not properly or sufficiently monitor the plaintiff while she was in a wheelchair; the defendants did not assess the plaintiff’s status; the defendants did not properly watch or monitor the plaintiff while she was in a wheelchair; the defendants did not provide proper restraints for the plaintiff while she was in the wheelchair; the defendants did not properly secure the plaintiff into the wheelchair; the defendants did not provide proper or sufficient protections to stop the plaintiff from falling out of the wheelchair to prevent her from falling; and the defendants did not provide enough medical attention or assistance while she was in the wheelchair or after she fell out of it.

As a result of these supposed errors and omissions, the plaintiff claimed the following damages:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Costs including medical expenses in excess of $50,000.

Insights:

  • The issue that seems most at play here is causation. This is a critical element to the plaintiff’s case and it will be on them to show that it was the fault of the facility and not the plaintiff, third party, or anything else that led to the incident and injury.
  • One alternative to proving any specific wrongful act or omission of the nursing home is for the plaintiff to paint the case as one of general neglect and lack of supervision. According to the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, nursing facilities have a general obligation to care for the patients and an affirmative duty not to neglect them. Shaping the case as one of neglect could help the plaintiff overcome the factual hurdles of causation. Along that theory, even if some party besides the facility had something to do with the incident, the nursing home’s neglect still created the situation that allowed it to happen.

Related Laws/Cases:

  • 210 ILCS 45/
  • 210 ILCS 45/3-601
  • 210 ILCS 45/3-602
  • 755 ILCS 5/27-6
  • 740 ILCS 180/1
  • 42 USCA §1396r

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