A Tennessee rehab facility recently settled a case involving the 2010 death of one of its patients. Twenty-nine year-old Lindsay Poteet checked into New Life Lodge rehabilitation center in 2010 seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. She died in September of that year after being transported to a Nashville area hospital. Ms. Poteet had a seventeen-month-old daughter.
The patient’s family filed suit the following year, seeking over thirty million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages. If pretrial hearings are any indication, the case was shaping up to be highly contentious. The attorneys argued over several issues, including the admissibility of Ms. Poteet’s prior drug use, whether or not to release the names of New Life’s other patients, and whether the facility was adequately staffed. Primarily in dispute was the facility’s decision to transport Ms. Poteet to the Nashville hospital in a company-owned vehicle instead of an ambulance or other emergency vehicle. Poteet collapsed during the drive, but did not receive emergency treatment until after the New Life staff member called 911. It is unclear whether this delay contributed to Ms. Poteet’s death.
Other facts surrounding the case remain unclear because the terms of the settlement agreement are confidential. Although confidential settlement agreements are common they are always troubling to me in cases like this where it would likely benefit the public if the truth came to light. Regardless, what is known, however, is that two other cases involving deaths at New Life Lodge are still pending in Tennessee courts, and New Life has become the subject of an investigation by Tennessee’s Attorney General. Additionally, it is known that sometime in 2012 state officials closed New Life Lodge temporarily. The center eventually reopened, albeit at reduced capacity.
Cases that we handle that may be somewhat analogous are nursing home negligence cases. Specifically, just like some of the centers a nursing home is full of residents that are completely dependent on the facility. Unfortunately, many of these homes are ran by for profit companies and profit will often conflict with good care. One of the quickest ways for a company to increase its profits is to reduce the staff or pay the staff less money. However, by doing so residents are left without enough people to provide their basic needs. This includes even the most basic care such as feeding, cleaning and giving each resident the medication they need. When these basic needs cannot be met the almost certain result is the patient will suffer.
I draw this analogy because in any case it is always important to show the “why” so it will not happen again. Specifically, we want to know why the person died at the rehab facility. Was it an unavoidable accident or was it because the facility put its own wants and needs over the patients? If the investigating agency digs deep enough the root of the problem can usually be discovered and hopefully another tragedy can be avoided. Hopefully, the pieces of this puzzle can be put back together so we can make this lodge and similar rehabilitation centers a safer place.
Unfortunately, reports of death and serious injury at Tennessee treatment facilities are not entirely uncommon. Mistakes can happen at rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and even hospitals. If you or a loved one has been injured under similar circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact The Higgins Firm today to discuss your legal options with our talented attorneys.