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South Carolina nursing home faces wrongful death lawsuit

A South Carolina assisted living facility is being sued by a former patient's estate. The 82-year-old woman passed away in her shower at the facility. Her death came only one day after she made reports to police and the nursing home staff that someone was forging her checks. Now the woman's estate is suing the facility and two of its employees for wrongful death, negligence and misconduct.

Prosecutors believe that a nurse's aide at the facility is responsible for the resident's death. They believe the woman entered the facility using her work badge and avoided the security cameras. They claim the woman hid in an empty room and rang the nursing station several times so she could try and get into the resident's room without anyone seeing her. She is accused of smothering the woman and then staging the scene to look as though she accidentally fell in the shower.

The employee has since been arrested, and is now facing charges in the woman's death. The woman has allegedly confessed to the murder and the attempted cover-up of the crime. She has been charged with both murder and burglary, in addition to several other criminal charges. The related civil lawsuit claims that a nursing director and a cook at the facility knew that the woman was being victimized and that they could have prevented her death. A nursing home official has denied the lawsuit's wrongful death and negligence allegations, asserting that the criminal act was that of one individual.

While this incident happened in a neighboring state, it can easily happen in ours, too. A wrongful death lawsuit seeking monetary damages is appropriate under our state law when a fatality is deemed to have been caused by the negligent or intentional acts of another. This is a tragic case that could have severe ramifications for both the facility and the named employees. Any time a South Carolina family experiences the death of a loved one due to negligence or an intentional act, they have the right to turn to our state courts to seek relief. Such a case won't change the circumstances surrounding what happened, but a successful result could hold the person or entity responsible and potentially prevent future deaths.

Source: CharlotteObserver.com, "Dead woman's estate sues Rock Hill nursing home," Aug. 23, 2012

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