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Woman Dies After Wandering from Duluth Assisted Living Facility

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm / August 16, 2017

In July of 2013, a woman suffering from dementia was able to flee the Duluth assisted living facility where she was entrusted completely unnoticed. More than six months later her “mummified” body was found caught in a chain-link fence some distance from the facility.

The 74 year-old woman, Dale Gerard, required care for being prone to wander. She suffered from orientation issues and self-injurious behavior. Wesley Residence, the care facility, created a service plan stating that Gerard was to remain at the facility unless accompanied by staff or family members.

In response to concerns from the family, Wesley Residence gave Gerard a Wander-Gaurd bracelet that would alert staff members if it ever crossed the building’s premises. However, the bracelet was not fully equipped with the technology required and wasn’t performing at 100%. The facility received a quote to fully implement the system but never actually did so. The tracking bracelet was found on the woman’s remains.

Mark Gerard, one of Dale’s sons filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility in February 2016. In 2017 a judge ruled that Dale Gerard’s death was a direct result of her leaving the facility. Wesley Residence acknowledged their liability in the death.

Andrew Gross, one of our attorneys, represented the family of the deceased. In an interview with the Duluth News Tribune, Gross said the following:

“When the family came to us, what they wanted was for the facility to accept responsibility and didn’t want this to go ignored. They wanted to feel that they were pursuing justice and not have this forgotten. Through what we’ve accomplished here, we’ve achieved those goals.”

Mr. Gross also said, “It’s important that people of Duluth know what’s going on in these facilities. The more that people know, the more that people are paying attention, the more that we can actually implement policies to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Sadly, Dale Gerard’s case is not the only instance of negligence in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. The Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm has represented many families against various facilities across Minnesota. As the baby boomer generation increases in age, the amount of people trusted in the care of such places will only increase. We advise family members to be aware of the issues that occur and to contact our law firm with any concerns or questions.

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