Jury Returns $5 Million Verdict Against Timber Ridge Assisted Living in McKinleyville

Timber ridge care home

Timber Ridge Assisted Living home in McKinleyville. [Image from their website]

Press release from the Jansson and Malloy law firm:

On January 18, 2017 a Humboldt County Jury returned a verdict of 5 Million Dollars against Timber Ridge Assisted Living of McKinleyville LLC and Western Living Concepts, Inc.

The case was brought by the daughters of Marjorie Fitzpatrick. Ms. Fitzpatrick was a 90 year old resident of the dementia unit in Timber Ridge McKinleyville. Ms. Fitzpatrick escaped through a supposedly locked door into an internal courtyard at Timber Ridge. She suffered a fall, sustained broken facial bones, a broken wrist and a brain bleed. She was outside in the courtyard for 45 minutes before she was discovered and eventually died from her injuries.

Plaintiffs contended that Ms. Fitzpatrick should never have been in the facility because of the level of her dementia and that her admission was in violation of the law. Plaintiffs further claimed that defendants failed to provide Ms. Fitzpatrick anti-anxiety medication, which would have prevented her from escaping and that defendants had a custom and practice of violating the law regarding medications. Plaintiffs also claimed that the defendants’ staff were poorly trained and incapable of taking care of someone with the level of dementia of Marjorie Fitzpatrik. Plaintiff alleged a cover-up by the defendants to prevent evidence of what had actually occurred to Marjorie Fitzpatrick, including destruction of a video of the fall and multiple eyewitness reports. Plaintiffs were represented by W. Timothy Needham of the firm of Janssen Malloy LLP and Michael Thamer.

The jury returned a verdict of 2.1 Million Dollars for the action for wrongful death, $400,000 for elder abuse, and 2.5 Million Dollars in punitive damages.
“On behalf of the family and ourselves, we are extremely grateful for the verdict” Mr. Needham said. “Hopefully this verdict will send a message to Timber Ridge and other assisted living facilities that they need to comply with the safety regulations they are mandated by the state to follow and can’t try to hide how residents are injured at their facilities from their families and the state.”

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15 comments

  • It’s about time one of these places is held to answer for their incompetence! I have heard so many sad stories of what I believe amounts to Elder Abuse. This is so heartbreaking. To just imagine what this elderly woman went through. Thoughts and prayers to the family.

    • I am 94- Yes I neededtheambulance twice but didn’t quit what the elderly call roaming, the articles refer toTimber ridge a-s a nursing home—no nurse but Asssisted Living—caring employees 24 hours helping…
      that is why I have lived at TimberRidge in Emyryvillle for five years

  • Thank you, Mr. Needham and Mr. Thamer, for your continued efforts on behalf of the elderly who, most of the time, have no voice.

  • Marci Kitchen’s law firm just made a ton of money off of this!

  • It’s about time their held accountable.my mom was treated like shit.ignored when she needed her medications,or use the rest room waiting hours.BS.they charge enough,so pay for good help.

  • Let’s see, the family chooses to put demented relative in care home because they don’t want to take care of her, or can’t. Yet, the care home is to blame for having her. They should have rejected her, and put the burden of care where it belongs – on the family. Outrageously, the relatives wanted her medicated to keep her sedated as a way of caring for her. In other words, family should also have known the facility was inadequate. Sheesh… This is a hard case to blame only Timber Ridge for trying to care for her when the family wouldn’t. Seems to me cases like this will make care for the demented less available. Who wants that burden? Just when your aunt, mother or father get full blown dementia – they’ll be kicked out of the care home that isn’t equipped to have them. Then reality will set in; wonder how many relatives could be sued for elder abuse when they get overwhelmed and make mistakes caring for their mindless, demented relative at home.
    Timber Ridge made mistakes, for sure, and should be punished – but I bet so long as the relative was sedated, and not hurting herself, the relatives didn’t care if Timber Ridge was licensed or equipped, legally, to have the patient…

    • You really don’t know what you’re talking about. Timber Ridge intentionally failed to have her properly assessed by a trained medical professional, as required by law, and did so simply to get her family to move her in. The family was never aware the assessment wasn’t done.

      After the incident, they intentionally tried to cover it up, telling the family she was only outside for a few minutes before it was discovered she had eloped the facility, even though she had been outside for more than 45 minutes. Staff members were instructed to say she had only been outside for a few minutes. Then they intentionally destroyed the incident reports completed by the staff.

      Timber Ridge also took it upon themselves to withhold prescribed medication to her. This is also a violation of the law.

      Lastly, her family didn’t just “dump her” there. People with dimentia often times require more professional and constant care than family members are capable of giving. Her family visited her regularly. And considering they were paying $5000 a month for her to live there, it’s hardly a case of just passing her off because they didn’t care. Timber Ridge markets itself an an upscale, high quality assisted living facility. And their rates reflect that, even if the level and quality of staff training do not.

      • they need licensed staff to legally pass medications

        • they do not need licensed staff to “pass” medications, they are not allowed to administer medications…for example if a resident is on Morphine and is unable to “push” the syringe themselves, or unable to suck the medicine out of the syringe a non-licensed person MAY NOT PUSH that syringe…

    • I don’t think “just saying” should speak on this topic as it seems they have no experience with caring for a family member with Alzheimers, placing them in a facility and the levels of heartbreak that come with it. To blame the family is thoughtless and cruel. They have a right to have their family member cared for with dignity and respect. Timber Ridge Renaissance is poorly mananaged. I watched an elderly women fall there once and the staff blamed it on her, actually said “she does that on purpose”. Unbelievable. I watched the management disregard and criticize their own staff. I watched new caregivers start one of the most challenging jobs of caring for fragile elders with dementia step into the role with no training or experience. I also experinced poor record keeping, lack of accountability, and residents who were not getting the care they needed. One woman who was left screaming in her room was not taken to the hospital for hours as staff repeatedly said ” it’s her dementia”. It turned out she had broken her hip and I found out she died that same day. If you are also a caregiver or family member who experienced these kinds of unfortunate circumstances perhaps a class action lawsuit is in order. I find the above comments from “just saying” to lack substance, heart and intelligence in regards to a complicated and difficult struggle. Perhaps this lawsuit will shed some light on what is really happening at Timber Ridge Renaissance. It is not legal, ethical or acceptable. I hope local governing boards can address the issues of administrative greed, unprofessional management, lack of proper training, increased salaries to compensate the hard work that caregivers do every day to provide the dignity and care that our fragile elderly deserve. The owner will pay the consequences in this lawsuit, but numerous families will be left with heartbreak and stress you can not and never would want to imagine. My heart is with the Fitzpatrick family and all the families who are facing these challenges.

    • TimberRidge medicates withpositave identification at three meals per dayNo Nurses–many caregivers
      I appreciate the help have gottten for five years– my daughter,a nurse helped me choose where t go
      for my retirement—my physican confirmed.

  • When I worked there 9 , 10 years ago it was not like that, and I cared for everyone there. all of the residents were taken care of . I enjoyed my time working there.

  • I worked at Timber Ridge during the time that Ms. Fitzpatrick was living there. I can tell you she was well taken care of by the Caregivers. Staff is not the issue here. The Management would never listen to us when we turned in needed repairs, to be done. Ms. Fitzpatrick escaped out of a door that was broken. The employees, (me being one of them) asked for this door to be fixed several times. At times, and against the Fire Code, we would stack chairs up against the broken door, so no resident could get out and get hurt. Knowing this was wrong, we did it anyway for the safety of the residents. There were Incident Reports made about this situation. There was also a video of the backyard & it showed Ms. Fitzpatrick fall & sustain her horrible injuries. I saw the video myself!!! The Incident Reports & the video both were destroyed by the owners. They treated us employees like we were easy to replace at any time, and worked us on double shifts, many, many days in a row. Basically, we were not appreciated and totally over-worked, all the time. The Fitzpatrick Family came to visit their Mother often & loved her very much. Ms. Fitzpatrick didn’t deserve to die in this way. I was by her side, holding her hand when she passed away. I was trained before I came to work at Timber Ridge & continued my training while I was working there as well. I took care of the elderly residents, as if they were my own Mother, Father, Grand-father or Grand-mother! I loved them all very much. The owners of Timber Ridge tried to sweep all the evidence under the rug & were hoping nothing would happen & it would all go away! It back-fired on them! The Family got justice, as far as I am concerned. The employees were, at that time, caring and loving. The issue here is the owners. They don’t care. For them, it’s all about the money! I was there. Rest In Peace Beautiful Marjorie!!!

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