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Kosieradzki Smith files wrongful death suit against Duluth care facility for resident’s 2013 disappearance

13147435aAs reported in today’s Duluth News Tribune, Kosieradzki Smith has brought a law suit against the owner and operator of a West Duluth assisted-living facility, which failed to protect a 74-year-old, dementia-stricken client, Dale Gerard. Ms. Gerard died after the facility allowed her to wander away from the residence in July 2013.

Ms. Gerard was found dead in a grassy area near Piedmont Avenue in April 2014, nine months after she walked out of Wesley Residence on Grand Avenue and boarded a Duluth Transit Authority bus.

The wrongful death suit, served this week on Wesley Residence and parent company At Home Living Facilities, alleges that the care provider was negligent in failing to adequately secure the building and allowing her to leave unattended, violating established care policies.

The Duluth News Tribune quotes Kosieradzki Smith’s Andrew Gross: “This case shows the terrible consequences that happen when facilities like Wesley Residence make the decision not to provide the care that is needed, and instead put other economic factors ahead of the care of its residents.”

Ms. Gerard, who suffered from a number of physical and mental health disorders, depended on Wesley Residence to protect her from eloping from the facility.  In response to safety concerns raised by the family, the facility established a service plan that stated that she was to be confined to Wesley unless accompanied by family or staff.

In addition, her family purchased a WanderGuard bracelet to alert staff if she tried to leave through an exit equipped with proper technology. However, the system was ineffective because Wesley Residence did not link all doors in its facility to the technology.

Efforts by Ms. Gerard’s family and local authorities to locate her were unsuccessful for several months. Gerard’s body finally was found on April 15, 2014, near the area where she was last seen getting off the bus. Her “mummified” body was caught in a chain-link fence. The WanderGuard bracelet was still on Ms. Gerard’s ankle when her remains were found.

Ms. Gerard’s children view the filing of the suit as the only course of action to bring about change. The Duluth News Tribune quoted Attorney Andrew Gross: “It’s come down to the fact that it’s going to take a lawsuit to bring change and make sure the facility takes the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the promises they make to residents.”

The Duluth News Tribune report also notes that “Wesley Residence was recently the subject of some attention after an 89-year-old resident, Melvin Stelten, was fatally struck by two vehicles along Grand Avenue on Jan. 20. Police said an investigation found no criminal wrongdoing in the death of Stelten, who was attempting to cross the busy street when he was hit.”

For more, see Fox 21’s report, Lawsuit Filed against Duluth Assisted Living Facility after Resident’s Death.

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home or other care facility, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.