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