Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Wanders from Duarte Assisted Living Facility Due to Staff Negligence; Suffers Fall and Brain Hemorrhage

Duarte, Calif. — Robert Jacoby, a 91-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease and a dementia-related memory problem, was relocated from the independent living to the assisted living unit of Westminster Gardens, a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE), due to his high risk of elopement. It’s alleged that on July 24, 2018, just a few days after his transfer, Jacoby was allowed, due to the inattention of facility staff, to wander out of the building and into the facility’s courtyard, where he fell into an unfenced concrete drainage ditch. After being discovered by staff, he was transferred to Pomona Valley Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage. On August 29, 2018, Jacoby returned to the facility after undergoing rehabilitation therapy. After readmission, he experienced significant deterioration to his overall health. On September 15, 2018, Jacoby was discharged to the hospital from the facility after an episode of combativeness and was thereafter admitted to the memory care unit of a different facility.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Westminster Gardens for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“By retaining Robert as a resident in the facility, Westminster Gardens maintained responsibility for his care and supervision. But by virtue of being chronically understaffed and poorly run, the facility failed to provide Robert with basic services and necessary care and supervision, as stated in our Complaint,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Robert’s injuries would not have occurred had the facility complied with applicable state regulations governing the operations of an RCFE in California. Unfortunately, it seems facility operators were more focused on collecting his monthly payments rather than ensuring his health and safety.”

Allegations and Background

Jacoby and his wife had resided in the independent living unit of Westminster Gardens since 1999. RCFEs, such as Westminster Gardens, are an intermediate step between independent living and nursing homes. They do not provide medical treatment. Instead, these facilities provide varying levels of non-medical care and services based upon resident needs. California law prohibits RCFEs from admitting and retaining residents who require a level of care beyond that which can be provided in a non-medical facility. They are also prohibited from retaining residents who require 24-hour skilled nursing care.

The lawsuit alleges that upon Jacoby’s transfer to assisted living, the facility told his family that elopement risk residents were provided with wander guards, a device that alerts staff when a resident wanders off.

On July 22, 2018, facility staff noted that Jacoby “had been wandering the halls all night long.” However, it is alleged that a wander guard had not been provided to him.

Again, on July 23, 2018, staff noted that Jacoby was wandering the halls, yet a wander guard was still not provided to him, according to the Complaint.

On July 24, 2018, Jacoby was noted to be standing in his room between midnight and 1:30 a.m. At some point later, Jacoby wandered outside the facility through the automatic doors leading to the courtyard, where he fell into a concrete drainage ditch. The unfenced ditch measured at least four-feet deep and was located just off of the walking path.

At around 3:30 a.m. that same morning, facility staff noted that they found Jacoby in the ditch and called 911 to transfer him to Pomona Valley Medical Center.

At approximately 4:55 a.m., Jacoby arrived at the hospital. Facility staff called his family later that day and notified them that he had been transferred to the hospital for evaluation and treatment due to a fall. When his family arrived at the hospital, Jacoby had significant swelling on his head, and lacerations and bruising all over his body. The swelling on his head looked like, and was the approximate size of a goose egg, the lawsuit states. Further testing revealed that Jacoby had bleeding in his brain.

On August 10, 2018, Jacoby was discharged from the hospital. The discharge summary from the hospital states that he had suffered an “intraparenchymal hemorrhage,” for which he was treated. He was then discharged to a skilled nursing home for rehabilitation therapy.

Jacoby returned to Westminster Gardens on August 29, 2018. After his readmission, he experienced significant deterioration to his overall condition, including Sundowners syndrome, which causes confusion and agitation late in the day, hallucinations, anxiety and combativeness.

On September 15, 2018, Jacoby was discharged from the facility to the hospital after an episode of combativeness. He was thereafter admitted to the memory care unit of another facility.

The lawsuit alleges that Jacoby’s injuries, pain, suffering and mental anguish were a direct result of the negligent care he received at Westminster Gardens. This negligence accelerated the deterioration of his physical and mental health beyond what is caused by the normal aging process.