The cut on her throat was hard for anyone to explain. The police couldn’t identify any object that could have caused the laceration, but they did notice signs that blood had been cleaned up from the floor.
And neither could anyone explain how she had gone to bed in one set of pajamas, but woke up in a different set. And why the pajamas she had gone to bed in were freshly laundered by the time she woke up in the morning.
No, even her caretaker—who, coincidentally, had a history of violent conduct—was unable to explain the circumstances of the evening.
And, being non-verbal, the patient couldn’t explain what had happened, either…
But the complaint alleges this: her throat had been cut while under the care of the Takoda Trails intermediary care facility. She needed 12 sutures to close the wound. And, we do not believe that this was the first time she had suffered neglect at the hands of this care facility.
Eadie Hill is proud to give this victim the voice she so desperately needs.
A Lawsuit That Has Been a Long Time Coming
On November 30, 2022, Eadie Hill had the great honor of filing a lawsuit against Takoda Trails, Empowering People, Inc., and Creative Learning Workshop on behalf of Lauren Carter, and her father, Greg Carter.
Lauren is a 35-year-old developmentally disabled woman who suffers from cerebral palsy and cortical blindness. Due to her disabilities, she requires around-the-clock care. However, despite her reduced mental capacity, she is a normal 35-year-old woman in many ways. She feels. She smiles. She enjoys country music, going on walks, and being tickled.
She deserves to be kept safe, and to feel safe. But we believe that Takoda Trails has failed at this.
In fact, we believe that Takoda Trails has not only failed Lauren, but has also failed all of its patients by choosing to prioritize profits over patient care. Not only is the facility understaffed, but many of the staff members they do employ are under qualified. There are also no security cameras in place—even after several significant, dangerous, and even deadly incidents have occurred. Furthermore, the complaint alleges that Takoda Trails has gone so far as to cover-up employee misconduct while failing to identify, report, or prevent instances of neglect and abuse. This certainly isn’t the “compassionate” and “person-centered” care promised by the facility’s website…
Lauren was accepted as a resident of Takoda Trails in 2002. The facility was aware that Lauren required constant supervision due to her disability.
In 2003, Lauren received 18 stitches in the back of her hand. Allegedly, Lauren got her hand caught in a door. Her family was not notified of the incident, and Takoda Trails can’t explain where or how the injury was sustained.
A few years later, one of Lauren’s high school teachers noticed a troubling burn mark on her arm, seemingly shaped like the nozzle of a hair dryer. The complaint alleges that Takoda Trails was notably uncooperative with the investigation that followed.
On several other separate occasions, the complaint alleges that Lauren was pushed into and restrained in her wheelchair. Note that Lauren is able to walk, and only requires her wheelchair when traveling long distances. To be restrained in her wheelchair unnecessarily is nothing short of abuse.
Lauren was subsequently abandoned in a transport bus for several hours, in the middle of the summer. She was found overheated, drenched in sweat, and with an elevated body temperature. This has happened twice now.
Caretakers assigned to provide Lauren with 24-hour care have been found sleeping while on-duty, which—we believe—placed Lauren (and other residents) in grave danger.
In 2014, Lauren suffered a broken clavicle. Again, her family was not notified. No one knows when, where, or how this injury occurred.
In 2019, she was hospitalized after food backed up in her esophagus, and at the surgical site of her gastronomy tube. We believe that if she had been receiving proper care, this would not have happened.
And then, in November 2021, her throat was found slashed…
Lauren is lucky to be alive after her throat was cut. And she is lucky to have our team of attorneys fighting hard to hold Takoda Trails, Empowering People, and Creative Learning Workshop accountable for this reckless negligence and abuse.
When Profits Are More Important Than Patients
Empowering People, which has corporate control over Takoda Trails and Creative Learning Workshop, has failed to prioritize patient care over profitability on many levels:
- Failure to address policies and procedures regarding resident supervision and care
- Failure to budget enough funds for these facilities to properly staff their units with an appropriate ratio of care providers to patients, resulting in systematic understaffing in order to increase profitability
- Failure to comply with federal and state regulations outlining the supervision of management, care providers and staff
- Failure to implement proper training systems for staff members
The Empowering People website promises the following:
Our mission is to empower and support people with disabilities with a supporting vision to create a community where the person is visible and the disability is not. We believe that every person should make decisions that directly affect their lives. With the application of sound principles such as compassion, equality, integrity and self-determination, we provide a supportive living environment for those we serve as well as providing a welcoming work environment where each employee finds success and fulfillment.
This misleading advertising makes it sounds like their care facilities—which include Takoda Trails and a few dozen other care centers in Ohio—are able to provide patients with a high level of compassionate, supportive, personalized care…when, in reality, we believe they are not staffed (nor do they have the right systems in place) to do so.
What Are We Suing Them For?
The lawsuit we filed against Takoda Trails, Empowering People, and Creative Learning Workshop alleges the following causes of action:
- Negligence/recklessness: Takoda Trails failed to provide Lauren with the level of care and attention they knew she needed, resulting in physical harm and emotional damage.
- Resident’s rights: Lauren’s right to live in a safe and clean environment were violated, amongst many other basic human rights.
- Negligent hiring, supervision and retention
- Civil conspiracy to defraud residents and their families by delivering care contrary to their promises
- Fraud: Empowering People failed to reveal facts about staffing levels, pay scales, and the amount of care they are able to provide at their facilities.
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress
- Assault and battery: staff members at Takoda Trails willingly threatened, attempted to harm, and harmed Lauren.
This is a truly horrific case, where—rather than providing the “compassionate” and “personal-centered” care promised on its website—Takoda Trails cause irreparable physical and emotional harm to Lauren and her family.
Living with cerebral palsy and cortical blindness is hard enough without having to face neglect and abuse. Eadie Hill is ready to fight for justice for Lauren. Nothing can change the horrors that have already occurred, but we CAN change what happens next…and hold this network of care facilities accountable for delivering on their promise to care for those with debilitating disabilities.
Neglect and Abuse Isn’t Limited to the Nursing Home
Whether you have an aging loved one in a nursing home, or a young family member with a several developmental disorder in a long-term care facility, you should never have to worry that they are suffering abuse or neglect at the hands of their caretakers.
Eadie Hill is fighting to end this abuse and neglect—for good!
We hold long-term care facilities accountable for providing their patients with a safe, clean, well-staffed living environment. And when they fail at this, we stand up and fight for those who suffered as a result.
Learning from the Experiences of Others
Takoda Trails has an unimpressive 2.3 star ranking in Google. Some highlights from former staff members include:
“Terrible place to work, and also to actually trust them with your loved ones!!!!! I come from a background where we really love and care about clients these people are in it for the money!!!!! They change staff so much because they are RUDE look-out-for-themselves kind of people! They don’t treat these people with respect, or as if they’re human. Tons of other assisted living facilities out there…do your RESEARCH.”–Amaris Collins
“My regret is not speaking up sooner! So, I am sorry to the families. The staff would forget to pull a resident off of the toilet for more than an hour.
Another wheelchair-bound resident was put in a corner with the wheelchair locks on, so she couldn’t move.
I would get my client dressed, and she would have big bruises on her.
I reported a lot of neglect, but management was very corrupt. I should have told their families. Please do not send your loved ones here.”–Ms. Sullivan
These employee reviews shed a lot of light on what is going on behind the scenes, not just at Takoda Trails, but at all the care facilities and day programs operated by Empowering People.
350 Kolb Drive
Fairfield, OH 45014
1268 North River Rd. NE
Warren, OH 44483