West’s Encyclopedia for American Law defines wrongful death as, “the taking of the life of an individual resulting from the willful or negligent act of another person or persons.” In other words, if someone is killed because of the negligent or abusive behavior of another person, the victim’s beneficiaries have ground to file wrongful death action against those responsible. It is governed by statute and it varies from state to state.
On October 10, 2016, Ralph Atkins, 83, of Bremerton, Washington wandered out of Forest Ridge Health and Rehabilitation Center unattended. He was later found lying in the parking lot. Immediately taken to the hospital, Atkins was fully examined and returned to Forest Ridge the same day. He died at the nursing home later in the afternoon.
Following Atkins Death, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fined Forest Ridge Health $552,000, but lowered it to $363,000. State Department of Social and Health Services surveyors found the nursing home had precautions in place to prevent residents from leaving the facility unsupervised. They also found that nursing staff had made errors when treating Atkins after he returned from the hospital.
In tandem, Atkins estate sued the rehabilitation center in Kitsap County Superior Court in August 2017. The wrongful death lawsuit was settled through mediation. Atkins estate attorney said the mediated settlement is confidential and has been dismissed. The beneficiaries did not comment.
Ownership of Forest Ridge and sister facility Bremerton Health and Rehabilitation was transferred to Los Angeles-based Cornerstone Healthcare Services in 2017.