In Springfield, Illinois, one nursing home resident’s wrongful death could potentially cost their former facility up to a million dollars according to The Register-Guard. A Springfield wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the Sweet Briar Villa assisted living facility over the death of a resident from 2017.
On Sept. 11, 2019, Zandra Heisler filed the Springfield wrongful death claim with the Lane County Circuit Court. Heisler is the daughter and estate representative of Norma “Jeanette” Lawrence and claims that her mother died from the negligence of the staff at Sweet Briar Villa.
According to the Springfield wrongful death lawsuit, Norma Lawrence resided at Sweet Briar Villa from 2014 until her allegedly wrongful death on Nov. 7, 2017. Mrs. Lawrence was admitted to Sweet Briar because of her dementia, short-term memory loss, and inability to verbally express her needs.
The Springfield wrongful death lawsuit details that in late October 2017, Sweet Briar Villa staff had noted a change in Norma Lawrence’s urine that was typically indicative of a urinary tract infection. This development was reported to staff supervisors by staff members, by Zandra Heisler, and Norma Lawrence’s husband on separate occasions. Additionally, Norma Lawrence’s family also noted that she appeared to be sick and had symptoms of respiratory illness. The lawsuit also notes that during this period no action was taken by the staff.
The claims contend that on Nov. 4, 2017, Norma Lawrence’s family members informed the staff members at Sweet Briar Villas that Norma was cold to the touch and nonresponsive. Within minutes, her temperature allegedly dropped from 93.7 degrees to 91.7 degrees. In response, staff members supplied Norma Lawrence with additional blankets. When Norma Lawrence’s temperature dropped to 86.7 degrees, she was taken to the hospital.
At the hospital, the Springfield wrongful death lawsuit states, Norma Lawrence was diagnosed with sepsis from her urinary tract infection. On Nov. 7, 2017, Norma Lawrence passed away in the hospital from cardiopulmonary arrest due to sepsis.
Prior to the Springfield wrongful death lawsuit’s filing by Norma Lawrence’s family, the Illinois department of human services gave Sweet Briar Villa two violations for failing to assess and intervene in a resident’s condition change.
A state report shows that Sweet Briar called 911 to transport Norma Lawrence, designated as Resident #1 in state records, an hour after Lawrence’s temperature was found to be potentially hypothermic. Ultimately, the state department of human services found that Sweet Briar’s failure to assess and intervene when Norma Lawrence suffered a significant change in condition in a timely manner to be a violation of resident rights. Sweet Briar Villa was also found to be guilty of neglect of care, abuse, and Sweet Briar Villa was fined $15,000 by the state.
When asked for comment, Sweet Briar’s Executive Director Ivy Lizsow stated she did know of the allegations as she and the rest of Sweet Briar’s current management team were present at the facility at the time that Mrs. Lawrence was a resident.
The Springfield wrongful death lawsuit is seeking damages for the allegations of negligence, personal injury, survival action, and wrongful death from the RSL Springfield, LLC, their facility Sweet Briar Villa, and the parent company of Radiant Companies Inc. The Springfield wrongful death lawsuit will be seeking up to $950,000 in compensation and the family of Norma Lawrence is demanding a jury trial for the proceedings.
For more information about how to proceed with a wrongful death claim, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys’ Wrongful Death Page.