By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm / July 13, 2017
In July of 2013, Dale Gerard, a 74-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with dementia, disappeared from the Wesley Residence, an assisted living facility located in Duluth, Minnesota. Nearly nine months later, in a grass covered area located several miles away from the facility, authorities discovered her body. This is a tragedy that could and should have been prevented.
Minnesota nursing homes and assisted care facilities have a legal duty to protect the health, safety and well being of their residents. One aspect of this legal duty is ensuring that proper security is in place, so that vulnerable, dementia stricken residents cannot simply wander away from the facility. Yet, in this case, that is exactly what happened, and Ms. Gerard and her family suffered dearly as a result.
Our Plymouth, MN wrongful death attorneys have represented the family in this case, and we quickly took action to hold the facility accountable for its misconduct. On behalf of the family, we filed a negligence lawsuit against Wesley Residence. Recently, as was reported in the Duluth News Tribune, Sixth Judicial District Judge Mark A. Munger ruled in favor of the Gerard family on a key legal issue.
Judge Mark A. Munger granted partial summary judgement to Mark Gerard, the son of the victim, on the issue of the cause of death in this case. More specifically, the judge ruled that Dale Gerard died from leaving the Wesley Residence. This is a critically important legal ruling, as it narrows the scope of the issues that will need to be decided by the jury. As our nursing home abuse lawyer Andrew D. Gross told the Duluth New Tribune “the jury will not have to answer the question of what led to Dale Gerard’s death.”
The defendants in this case, the Wesley Residence and its parent company, At Home Living Facilities, had attempted to absolve themselves of any liability by blaming “the natural elements” for the dementia patient’s death. As Judge Munger agreed, this argument completely ignores the key point that Dale Gerard was only forced to face those elements because she left the facility in the first place.
With the cause of death being a settled legal question in this case, the jury will only need to decide whether or not the facility’s negligence contributed to the woman leaving, and if so, what damages should be awarded to the family. Currently, the case is expected to go before the jury in August.
We can help. At Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm, our wrongful death attorneys in Plymouth, MN fight aggressively to protect the rights of the elderly and vulnerable adults. If you family member was injured or killed due to nursing home abuse or negligence, you need to take action today. Please contact our firm at (763) 225-2695 to set up a free review of your claim. We represent victims in Minneapolis, St, Paul and throughout the state of Minnesota.