Last month, a Seattle nursing home’s insurance company agreed to pay $8 Million to settle a lawsuit brought by a woman in her 50s with multiple sclerosis who was sexually assaulted in her nursing home room by a male employee of the home.
Let the horror of that statement sink in for a moment.
The CEO of the facility, Foss Home and Village, wrote in a statement, “We are heartbroken and devastated that our resident was sexually assaulted. Had we known, we would have immediately contacted the police in alignment with our established policies and procedures. As soon as we did know, the offending employee was immediately suspended and later terminated.”
It sounds like the nursing home cares deeply about its residents and wants to keep them safe, right? “Had we known…,” says the CEO, we would have called the police.
The fact is that they should have known, they should have screened their employees more carefully, and they should have been monitoring the safety and well-being of their residents.
The horrific incident was only reported because the victim told her family she was being abused. The family set up a hidden camera that caught the perpetrator in the act. As we’ve written about in a previous blog post, it’s always a good idea for family members to set up “Granny Cams” to monitor their loved ones in facilities so they can check up on them and keep them safe. This Seattle case is a perfect example of why families should act immediately.
How can Nursing Home Assault Result in Settlement?
By the way, the incident that prompted the lawsuit occurred more than two years ago. Instead of doing the right thing and immediately compensating the victim and her family for the injuries done to them, Foss Home and Village forced prolonged litigation before acknowledging their wrongdoing – perhaps in hopes that people would forget, or the victim would give up and go away.
The State of Seattle launched an investigation two years ago and found that Foss Home and Village “failed to ensure a resident remained free of sexual abuse perpetrated by a staff member during provision of personal care.” For its lapses, The State fined the nursing home $3,000.
$3,000! No wonder terrible crimes against our seniors continue to occur with impunity. The facilities managers know that it’s cheaper to pay the fine than run a tight ship. The insurance company paid the $8 million settlement, and the nursing home paid $3,000. It’s ridiculous.
It’s time to send a message to nursing home operators and state regulators that they need to fix the system – it’s broken, and this case proves it.
Attorney Wendy York of York Law Firm specializes in prosecuting nursing home abuse, elder abuse and wrongful death cases in California. If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance please contact Wendy York today!