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Son sues California nursing home for mother's wrongful death

A man has filed a lawsuit against a California nursing home, claiming that the facility repeatedly left his mother outside in extreme hot temperatures, and that the negligence of the staff in doing so caused her death. The facility has been cited by the California Department of Social Services for neglect, but it is currently appealing the citation.

In his wrongful death lawsuit, the man states that he went to the assisted-living facility in August to visit his 89-year-old mother and found her outside on an unshaded concrete patio in 100-degree heat. He brought his mother inside, registered a complaint with facility staff and set up a meeting with the executive director for the following week. When the man returned from that meeting, he once again found his mother sitting outside on the same patio, in the direct sun and temperatures over 100 degrees.

The elderly woman was "unresponsive, drenched with perspiration and in obvious respiratory distress," the lawsuit claims. She was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, but the heat had sent her into cardiac arrest and she was pronounced dead. An autopsy determined that the woman died of hyperthermia and cardiovascular disease. Her body temperature was over 103 degrees at the time of her death.

In his suit, the man admits that his mother liked going outside, but said that she was unable to open the doors by herself and needed to be assisted and supervised. Facility staff did not do that, he says, making them guilty of wrongful death, elder abuse and neglect. He is seeking medical and funeral expenses as well as damages for pain and suffering.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Man sues Valencia care facility in death of 89-year-old mother," Kate Mather, June 21, 2012

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