Woman’s Family Sues Nursing Home after Neglect, Sexual Assault Led to her Death

Loraine McKenzie was admitted as a patient to Close to Home care facility in November 2017. She initially needed little assistance from staff but as time went on she needed more attention and care. Close to Home failed to properly assess these changes in her needs in accordance with the Ohio Administrative Code.

Silhouette of raised hands in fists with handcuffs


Not only did they fail to properly care for Loraine’s health, their recklessness and negligence led to her being sexually assaulted by another resident who had a criminal history. This attack led to a serious decline in Loraine’s health. She was severely dehydrated, suffered from pneumonia, organ failure, and ultimately death.

Nursing homes are required to provide care and safety to their residents. They must adhere to standard and when they fail to do so, they must be held accountable.

You can read the full lawsuit here.

Legal Obligations to Residents and Understaffing

It is impossible for nursing homes to fulfill their legal obligations to residents when they are so focused on profits that they understaff their facilities. Understaffing is a common practice in nursing homes that always ends in tragedy.

According to the lawsuit:

Defendants failed to ensure, through their operational, budgetary, consultation and managerial decisions and actions, that Close to Home was sufficiently staffed to meet the individual needs of Lorraine McKenzie.

Defendants engaged in a systemic practice to understaff the Close to Home facility to maximize profits at the expense of its residents’ care.

This lack of sufficient staff directly resulted in Lorraine McKenzie not receiving basic and necessary services to prevent, among other things, neglect leading to injury and death.

Failure to Assess Resident’s Needs

It is required by the Ohio Administrative Code for nursing homes to assess the needs of residents in order to provide them with the proper care and safe environment.

According to the lawsuit:

Lorraine McKenzie suffered numerous infections caused by dehydration. These were the direct result of Close to Home’s failure to assess and reassess Lorraine McKenzie and appropriately staff the facility with competent staff.

Lorraine McKenzie was frequently left in soiled undergarments. This was the direct result of Close to Home’s failure to assess and reassess Lorraine McKenzie and appropriately staff the facility with competent staff.

Lorraine McKenzie frequently had scraped knees and bruises that could not be explained by Defendants. This was the direct result of Close to Home’s failure to assess and reassess Lorraine McKenzie and appropriately staff the facility with competent staff.

Defendants failed to ensure a safe environment for its residents as required by law.

This treatment of Loraine is inhumane to say the least and violates the standards laid out by Chapter 3721 of the Ohio Revised Code and Section 3701-17-50 et seq. of the Ohio Administrative Code. They clearly did not assess her condition and left her to suffer.

Failure to Provide a Safe Environment for Residents

Nursing homes are required by law to provide a safe living environment for their residents. When they allow criminals to reside at their facilities, they are putting vulnerable people at risk. In this case, they even failed to let the family of Loraine know that a person with a lengthy criminal history had been admitted as a resident.

According to the lawsuit:

Defendants accepted Gary Earls as a resident. At the time of his admission, Earls had a lengthy criminal history and concerning issues regarding his mental stability. This criminal history included criminal charges related to trafficking in food stamps, possession of drugs / disorderly conduct, driving while intoxicated, improper handling of firearms, intoxication, sexual battery / kidnapping, sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages on city property, and disorderly intoxication / public disturbance.

Defendants ignored this criminal history, and permitted Earls to become a resident to the detriment of its vulnerable, elderly resident population.

Defendants never warned any family members of residents that Earls had been accepted as a resident.

At approximately 5:00am on November 17, 2017, a Close to Home aid heard screams coming from Lorraine’s room.

Close to Home’s employees have admitted to seeing Earls’ assault Lorraine.

Earls was straddling Lorraine and holding her down while he assaulted her.

Following the assault on November 17, 2017, Lorraine McKenzie was hospitalized and then returned to Close to Home where she was generally lethargic and depressed before being hospitalized and dying.

As a direct and proximate result of the action and inaction of Defendants, Lorraine McKenzie suffered conscious pain and suffering, incurred medical and medical related expenses, and death.

Prior to Lorraine’s injuries on November 17, 2017, there were prior instances of male residents exposing themselves to female residents and making unwanted sexual advances, including in resident’s rooms. Defendants did not remedy these concerning problems.

What’s the Purpose of a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The family has instituted suit against Close to Home. 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.

The family has hired nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers Michael Hill and William Eadie of Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers. 

Who is Close to Home?

Sharon Hartwig is the owner and executive director / administrator of multiple assisted living / residential care facilities in Ohio including:

  • Close to Home, Inc, 503 Vernon St., Ironton, OH 45638
  • Close to Home, II, LLC, 3712 Roosevelt Blvd., Middletown, OH 45044
  • Close to Home, III ,LLC, 617 Center St., Ironton, OH 45638
  • Close to Home, IV, Assisted Living, Inc., 12681 US 62, Sardinia, OH 45171
  • Close to Home IV, Inc., 12681 US 62, Sardinia, OH 45171; and
  • Close to Home, V, Inc., 5176 Washington Rd., Albany, OH 45710 and


Do you have questions about a possible abuse, neglect, stroke, or heart attack case? Contact us now using this confidential form. Or leave a comment below--but remember the comments are public, not confidential.

 Our No Fear Guarantee 

You’ve probably seen the lawyer ads: “No Fee Guarantee!” “No Fees if We Don’t Win!”   

Guess what? That’s true for just about any plaintiff’s lawyer.  It’s what a “contingency fee” means.  It doesn’t mean they’ll work hard.  Or get a good result for you.  It doesn’t mean much at all.

What we promise you is a NO FEAR guarantee.

What does that mean?  For 99% of our clients, a medical injury caused by negligence is new.  The medical malpractice lawsuit process is new.  Depositions, discovery, trial . . . everything is new.

New can be scary.  Especially when it involves having to testify under oath.

We’ve developed systems that let you address and move past the fear. Through education and information about the process. Role-playing and other preparation techniques. We empower you to be fearless.  Because this process is hard enough.

Contact us now.

—Subscribe Today—


Email Opt-In (Pop-Up)

Get the Definitive Guide . . . FREE

Get the definitive guide on Nursing Home and Assisted Living Claims — a $14.99 value — yours free, without commitment.

I don’t want the guide

Nursing Home and Assisted Living Wrongful Death Claims Book Cover three dimensional with shadow