Thursday, December 16, 2010

Did Nursing Home’s neglect cause actor Gene Barry’s death?

The children of film actor Gene Barry have alleged in a state court lawsuit that a Los Angeles area nursing home caused his death by neglecting to monitor his condition after a debilitating fall.

According to the complaint filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Sunrise of Woodland Hills admitted Barry in 2009 despite knowing it was not equipped to meet his needs as an Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferer.

Michael, Frederic and Elizabeth Barry allege the facility neglected to notify a physician after their father suffered a fall that left him in “excruciating pain” and ultimately caused his death.

According to the lawsuit, Barry, 90, was in stable physical condition when he entered Sunrise of Woodland Hills in June 2009. He fell at the facility Dec. 5 and injured his head, suffering brain damage and a subdural hematoma. He also sustained fractured ribs and a hip injury.

Sunrise employees “utterly and completely ignored” Barry for four days after the fall by failing to notify his physician and children and neglecting to monitor his deteriorating condition, the complaint says.

Barry died Dec. 9.

His children claim that Sunrise and its management, staff and corporate operators are liable for elder abuse, negligence, wrongful death and fraud in connection with the incidents that led to his death.

According to the suit, the facility willfully neglected to properly assess Barry during the pre-admission process. In doing so, Sunrise allegedly violated Cal. Code Regs. tit. 22, § 87582(f), which prohibits elderly residential care facilities from admitting patients whose “primary need for care and supervision results from dementia.”

In addition administrators and managers at the facility made false representations to Barry’s children that they would provide the proper standard of care even though they knew the facility was ill-equipped to meet Barry’s needs, the complaint says.

The defendants violated Barry’s rights as an elder to be free from abuse and neglect under Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610 when they failed to follow physician’s orders and neglected to monitor and respond to his condition after the fall, the suit says.

Barry’s children say they suffered loss of comfort, love and emotional support because of their “doting and dutiful” father’s untimely death. They also incurred expenses for his funeral and liability for estate taxes, the complaint says.

The Barrys seek unspecified general and special compensatory damages, pecuniary and punitive damages, and prejudgment interest.

Home’s neglect caused actor Gene Barry’s death, family says