Thirty-three year old cerebral palsy sufferer, Robert A. Young, died while under the care of a Chattanooga health facility, though if you’d asked his family members for the month after his death, they’d say he was doing fine. That’s because that’s what the Chattanooga facility’s staff told with each call, though they knew of Young’s death. This quiet, and the reason for the quiet, is the subject of his family’s $35 million lawsuit filed last week against Health Care Center at Standifer Place, a continuing care retirement community in Chattanooga, TN.
The circumstances surrounding Young’s death while under the care of the Chattanooga facility have been unclear. According to the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s office, Young died in 2007 from a blunt force trauma to the head. However, exhumed, an autopsy this week is expected to rule his death a homicide. At the time of death, Young was under the care of Tennessee Adult Protective Services and The Health Center at Standifer Place.
The survivors’ lawsuit alleges that not only did an employee of the Chattanooga facility kill Young, but that other nursing and staff employees covered this up when Young’s family would call to check on him. According to the lawsuit filed in Tennessee court, “Standifer Place told each [family member], on each call, that [Young] was okay, and to come see him,” for more than a month after Young had died. Meanwhile, Tennessee APS staff had Young buried in a pauper’s grave at Cofer cemetery after his death at Erlanger Hospital where he was admitted for a fever and seizure and where his doctors discovered internal bleeding that neither a seizure or a fever could cause.
The lawsuit filed in Tennessee court says the Chattanooga health facility should be held liable for wrongful death and fourteen other accounts, including assault, battery, fraud, violation of the Tennessee Adult Protection Act, violation of the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Standifer Place representatives state that their staff caused no harm.
Cases of abuse like this, if true, break my heart and are why I quit as an insurance company lawyer defending and protecting the profits of negligent companies and persons and became a personal injury lawyer. I’ve heard all the lawyer jokes, and even a few specific to Tennessee personal injury lawyers, but at the end of the day, I rest better knowing that my work and the work of my plaintiff’s attorney colleagues in Tennessee and across the nation help bring to light injuries and injustices against the weak and elderly and the unfairly treated worker and help reveal the wrongs of those companies that neglected others’ safety or personal security or that recklessly and dangerously put profits before safety.
If you or your Tennessee loved one has suffered serious injury or, God-forbid, a death under the care of a Tennessee nursing home or long-term care facility, let me and my colleagues at the Higgins Law Firm offer our legal help. For more information on Tennessee nursing home abuse, contact our Nashville law offices online or call us at 800-705-2121 for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.