A lawsuit alleging abuse and wrongful death has been filed in the death of a North Carolina nursing home residents that was ruled a strangulation.
The woman, Mary Bowling, died at Onslow Memorial Hospital, where she had been moved after the incident at Carolina Rivers Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where she was a resident. According to the death certificate and medical examiner’s report, doctors believe she was strangled at the facility on September 12, 2014, although they were not able to identify who was responsible, StarNewsOnline reports.
The cause of death was determined to be the result of “consequences of strangulation,” according to StarNewsOnline. The legal complaint alleges that the nursing home “knew that it was foreseeable that its residents were vulnerable and subject to intentional abuse by employees, visitors and other residents.” Authorities have not identified the person who strangled Bowling and the investigation continues.
Maple LTC Group LLC, Principle Long Term Care Inc. and Principle IT Services Inc. have been named as defendants in the lawsuit. At the time of the attack, Principle Long Term Care and Principle IT Services operated more than 40 long-term care facilities in North Carolina.
Bowling was admitted to Carolina Rivers on April 18, 2012, after she suffered a brain injury in which her brain had been deprived of oxygen. Because of the injury, she relied on the “defendants for all her activities of daily living,” according to the legal complaint. On the day of the attack, at 12:13 a.m., staff said “no acute changes were noted in Ms. Bowling’s condition,” StarNewsOnline reports. But at 6:51 a.m., Bowling “was bleeding out of her ears … and her face was slightly purple,” according to the complaint. Staff notified the facility’s director of nursing and Bowling’s doctor. At 11:48 a.m., nursing staff received orders to send Bowling to the hospital’s emergency department. Bowling remained at Onslow Memorial from September 12th to the 23rd. She died at Lower Cape Fear Hospice on September 30.
The legal complaint cites “assault and battery” and also describes “ordinary negligence” and the nursing home’s failure to protect residents from third parties, including nursing-home employees. “Mary Bowling could not engage in any physical activity without the assistance of an employee of defendants,” therefore her injuries could not have occurred without some “some negligent act or omission,” StarNewsOnline reports. Further, the complaint alleges, Bowling did not receive “appropriate and timely medical intervention” on September 12, 2014.
The complaint also claims “corporate negligence” by the defendants and accuses them of not ensuring adequate staff to meet residents’ needs; not ensuring that resident-abuse policies were implemented and followed; and not providing training so that employees could recognize the symptoms of abuse.
Bowling’s daughter seeks wrongful death and punitive damages for alleged “outrageous or aggravated conduct,” and “wanton disregard of the safety of Mary Bowling,” according to StarNewsOnline.
Medicare.gov reports that Carolina Rivers was placed on “immediate jeopardy” status because “inspectors determined that the nursing home failed to: protect each resident from all abuse, physical punishment and being separated from others; provide necessary care and services to maintain the highest well being of each resident; and immediately failed to tell the resident the resident’s doctor and a family member of the resident of situations (injury/decline/room, etc.) that affect the resident.” The nursing home faces federal fines of $23,855.