John J. Donahue was 93 years old when he died in 2005 following a horrific accident at the Embassy House nursing home, according to the Boston Herald. The facility is owned by Kindred Healthcare, a for-profit company which owns more than 40 nursing homes in and around Boston.
While living at the facility, a mechanical machine known as a “Hoyer lift” was used to lift Mr. Donahue from his bed. Two nursing home employees were supposed to used the machine at all times, because it’s the process needed to be performed delicately to avoid injuring the resident. However, in 2005 a staff member at the nursing home attempted to move Mr. Donahue without the necessary aide of a second employee. The single aide was unable to perform the operation safely. During the move a metal safety hook on the device caught Mr. Donahue’s face. The hook eventually gouged his eye, which eventually had to be removed. The victimized resident died a little more after the accident from sepsis.
Mr. Donahue’s family sued following the accident. However, they initially ran into a few legal complexities. A few years before his death, the nursing home had asked Mr. Donahue to sign a “voluntary” arbitration agreement whereby he agreed to give up his right to sue the nursing home following an accident or his death and instead arbitrate the disagreement. Arbitration is an alternative form of dispute resolution that involves a neutral “arbitrator.” The arbitration process can be long, expensive, and unfeasible to many.
Eventually, a judge invalidated the arbitration agreement that Mr. Donahue had signed, because he was 91 years old at the time and suffering from dementia. Obviously, it is highly inappropriate for a nursing home chain to ask a mentally suffering resident to sign away his legal rights.
It was over five years later that an actual trial took place regarding the Hoyer lift accident, with the jury awarding compensation to the family for the negligent nursing home conduct.
Nursing homes typically use all the legal tricks in their arsenal to avoid paying up for the mistakes that their employees make. That is why our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti encourage you to contact our office and allow us to use our decades of experience battling nursing home abuse to help vindicate your rights.
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