Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Genevieve Klimczak, an elderly woman who died due to hypothermia after she eloped from a retirement center in Illinois. On February 12, 2012 employees of McHenry Villa Retirement Center discovered Ms. Klimczak’s frozen body adjacent to a side door at the facility which locked behind Ms. Klimczak as she wandered from the facility the evening prior.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against the Retirement Facility and Care Agency
The wrongful death and survival lawsuit names Fox River Retirement Center, Inc., d/b/a McHenry Villa and Robert & Joyce Koch d/b/a Home Instead as defendants in the case and parties whom negligence resulted in Ms. Klimczak’s untimely death.
Like a growing number of patients in nursing homes and retirement centers, Ms. Klimczak entered McHenry Villa after she recognized that she required additional assistance with her daily living needs in relation to her Alzheimer’s disease.
Count I of the lawsuit involves McHenry Villa alleges that the facility held itself out as a facility which offered skilled assistance in caring for memory impaired residents, including those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It is further alleged that despite the fact that the retirement home held itself out as a facility capable of caring for the memory impaired, the facility failed to have both suffient staff supervision and physical safeguards (such as door alarms) to care to cognitively impaired residents.
Similar to the allegations against McHenry Villa, the counts of the lawsuit directed towards Home Instead, Inc., allege that despite the fact that the company represented itself as capable of providing care and supervision for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, like Ms. Kliczak, Home Instead failed to provide the supervision Ms. Klimczak’s family expected– and that she required. Home Instead by and through its agents is allegedly responsible for one of the following negligent acts in relation to Ms. Klimczak’s death:
- Improperly operated, managed, maintained and controlled the aforesaid premises, so that as a direct and proximate result thereof, the plaintiff was injured and died;
- Allowed and permitted a dangerous and defective condition to exist on the premises, specifically the door which locked behind the plaintiff;
- Failed to properly and adequately maintain the premises by failing to abate or correct the self locking door which was improperly in use at a facility which offered care for Alzheimer’s patients;
- Failed to make a reasonable inspection of the aforesaid premises, when the defendant knew or should have known that the inspection was necessary to prevent injury to the plaintiff;
- Failed to warn the plaintiff of the dangerous condition of said premises, when the defendant knew, or in the exercise of ordinary care, should have known, that said warning was necessary to prevent injury to the plaintiff;
- Failed to supervise the plaintiff and prevent her elopement through the self-locking exit door.
Episodes of Wandering Patients
Wandering / elopement is a recognized danger facing patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s in many care facilities. In order to minimize the risk of a patient wandering from the safety of the facility and harming themselves, facilities should conduct a candid assessment of each patient’s care needs to determine if the facility is capable of caring for them. Facilities caring for residents who are wandering risks should consider the following safety measures:
- Use of door / window alarms
- Bracelets with GPS technology for patients
- Training staff on ‘re-directing’ patients known to wander
- Creating an effective policy to locate patients who have left the facility.
This above wandering lawsuit is pending in Cook County Court, Law Division in Chicago, IL. You can view a copy of the complaint Estate-of-Genevieve-Klimczak-Complaint-at-Law (pdf).
News reports of this case:
Family of Alzheimer’s patient sues over death Northwest Herald