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L.F. v Exclusive Care Residential

Fagel attorneys obtained a settlement of $197,500 on behalf of the surviving family of a 49 year-old profoundly retarded woman who died of asphyxiation caused by foreign body aspiration after her caretaker negligently left her alone and unmonitored. The victim had been a resident of Exclusive Care Residential board and care facility for seven years at the time of her death and required constant supervision and assistance with eating. On December 7, 2003, the decedent was given a cookie by an employee of the facility, who then left her unattended thereafter. At some point later, the decedent was found unconscious on the ground. When found by paramedics, the victim was already devoid of pulse and respiration. Paramedics then discovered and removed a latex glove that was trapped in her airway. CPR was continued but did not restore respiration and cardiac shock paddles were ineffective in restoring a heartbeat. The victim was transferred to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead shortly after. The immediate cause of death was listed as asphyxia caused by airway obstruction as a consequence of foreign body aspiration.

Our attorneys were able to assemble evidence to demonstrate that the defendant’s negligent care of the decedent directly caused her wrongful death. First, the victim’s caregiver admitted to seeing the victim in possession of the latex glove since early that morning. The staff working with the decedent was undoubtedly aware of the victim’s propensity for placing foreign objects in her mouth, as progress reports from Exclusive Care are filled with noted episodes of her chewing on foreign bodies. Further, the owner of the facility attended an evaluation where it was specifically discussed that the victim was prone to choking. As such, the caregiver was negligent for simply allowing the decedent to have access to the glove that caused her death. In addition, given that the decedent was literally found dead at Exclusive Care Residential’s premises, she obviously must have been unmonitored for some time. Clearly, the appropriate level of monitoring could have prevented this tragedy.

Secondly, paramedics reported that no one at the defendant facility had attempted and/or performed CPR on the victim when she was found unconscious. Had any of the defendant employees performed CPR on the decedent, her chances for survival would have been greatly increased. Ultimately, our lawyers were able to prove that the decedent’s safety and health were entrusted to the staff of Exclusive Care Residential and that their neglectful behavior caused her clearly preventable death.