Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers and the family of Mr. Timothy Fulks, who died on Friday, April 27, 2018, have filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful death. He was 79 years old. Mr. Fulks had been receiving care at the short-term care facility The Laurels of Athens, located at 70 Columbus Circle, Athens, Ohio. He was recovering from a small bowel obstruction. It was understood that Mr. Fulks recovery would be short term and he would return home with his wife.
While under care of the faculty at the Laurels of Athens, Mr. Fulks fell numerous times. He had known risk factors associated with repeated falls. Nursing homes are responsible for assessing a resident’s risk of falling and put proper fall prevention methods in place. The staff at the Laurels failed to meet their obligation to Mr. Fulks.
The staff at the Laurels was aware that Mr. Fulks suffered from Dementia, which means he depended on the staff more. People with memory disorders are known to be higher risk of falling. This is due to gait related disturbances, unstable balance, weakness, loss of impulse control, and lack of insight as to what is safe and unsafe.
On April 19th, 2018, Mr. Fulks fell from a chair. The staff at the Laurels called EMS and stated the following:
“We found him on the floor. He’s being very quiet. He’s not… he cannot talk, which normally he can. And he’s telling us he can’t talk. He does have a small laceration on the top of his head, and forehead. Where he hit his nose, he’s got a nose bleed. We’re only getting a slight response from his pupils. He is not moving about. It’s way out of character for him.”
When EMS arrived, they found that Mr. Fulks had injuries to his head, upper shoulders, arms, a laceration on the back of his head. He was awake but nonverbal. He was taken to O’Bleness Hospital in Athens, Ohio.
At the hospital, it was found that Mr. Fulks had a spinal cord injury from the fall. He never recovered from the injuries. He died on April 27th.
You can read the full complaint here:.
Underlying Causes: Misleading Advertising
The Laurels at Athens advertises that they are skilled care takers of patients who need rehabilitation. They are clearly incapable of providing the level of care that they advertise. They have mislead the families of residents who entrust the care of their loved ones with their staff.
Like many nursing homes, the practice of misleading potential residents and their families about the level of care that they can provide is to limit their budget and overhead needed to run a safe facility to maximize profits.
Underlying Causes: Understaffing
Often times nursing homes fail to ensure the safety of their residents because they are understaffed. In this case, the Laurels at Athens failed to ensure that Mr. Fulks was safe through operational, budgetary, consultation and managerial decisions and actions.
Nursing homes will purposefully under staff a facility in order to maximize profits. This is done at the expense of the safety of the residents who entrust them for care. According to the lawsuit, this lack of staff directly resulted in Mr. Fulks not receiving the basic and necessary care that he needed to ensure his safety.
Nursing home abuse prevalent in Athens County and at Laurel Healthcare owned facilities.
According to an article in the Athens Messenger, two wrongful death cases have been filed against nursing homes in the Athens County Common Pleas Court.
The article states that in regards to Mr. Fulks:
The court action asserts that The Laurels of Athens was understaffed to maximize profits, and claims that families were misled to believe that the facility can provide a level of care it is “incapable of providing.” The lawsuit, which alleges negligence and recklessness, claims that Fulks had several risk factors for falling, including dementia, and that The Laurels was “obligated to implement a fall prevention plan.”
Another case involving a Mr. Jonas L. Leckrone, who was 78 at the time of his death on April 16, 2017, has been filed as well according to the article. The article states that:
According to the lawsuit, Leckrone suffered a hip fracture and had surgery, and then was transferred to Kimes for rehabilitation. The lawsuit states that Leckrone entered Kimes on Dec. 9, 2016, then was transferred Jan. 15, 2017 to Marietta Memorial before returning to Kimes on Jan. 31 of that year. On Feb. 16 he was taken to OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital for several days, then transferred to another nursing home where he died April 16. Neither O’Bleness nor the other nursing home are named as defendants.
The lawsuit alleges that Leckrone’s medical condition “declined rapidly due the negligent medical care provided to him by one or more of the … defendants.”
You can read the full article here.
Another case involving the Laurels had previously been covered by Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers stated that the Laurels of Mt. Vernon was responsible for the negligent death of a Korean War Veteran in February of 2017 due to infections caused by bedsores. The family of Mr. Huls chose Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers to represent his estate in the wrongful death case.
The article and lawsuit describes Mr. Jack Huls experience. It states that:
On December 8, 2016 Mr. Huls was brought to the Laurels at Mt. Vernon for short term rehabilitation for a leg injury he had suffered. After two days, Mr. Huls became unresponsive and was rushed to the hospital. He later returned to The Laurels and it was reported that he had stage II pressure sores (bedsores).
The Laurels staff repeatedly assured the family of Mr. Huls that the sores had healed, even though they had not. Mr. Huls family also had made complaints that he was malnourished, he was poorly taken care of– his family finding him with severe, watery diarrhea on his clothing, complaining of stomach cramps, confusion, and skin breakdown.
These are all signs of infections. The family presented their concerns to the administration at The Laurels and they were reassured that he was on the way to recovery. On February 19th, he was admitted to Knox Community Hospital for sepsis, organ failure, and Clostridium Difficile (aka “C. Diff”). He passed away on February 23rd and the cause of death was C. Diff and sepsis.
You can read the full article and access the lawsuit filing here.
What’s the Purpose of a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The family has instituted suit against the Laurels at Athens and Mt. Vernon. A wrongful death lawsuit in Ohio is brought on behalf of the surviving family members. The family hopes that this lawsuit will bring awareness to mistreatment at nursing homes and will prevent future injuries and assaults on nursing homes residents.
This article was written by Kimberly Smith, an investigative journalist writing for nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers. She has a Master’s Degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.