No one called 911 or performed CPR when 75-year-old James “Jim” Black stopped breathing at his assisted living facility last year, his family says.
He’d been there a day and a half when he died on a mattress in the lobby, according to a wrongful death lawsuit his daughter filed recently in Pierce County Superior Court.
The suit names the facility, Hearthside Manor in University Place, as well as employees, superiors and Oregon-based Beehive Management Group, which does business as Caring Places Management.
Hearthside is one of at least eight assisted living facilities that Beehive operates in Washington.
“Our residents are family, and we grieve for this loss,” Hearthside lawyer Logan Pratt wrote in an emailed statement. “Privacy laws prohibit us from speaking about the unique medical conditions of our residents and we have no comment at this time.”
According to the complaint, filed by Nancy Uitto on July 6:
Uitto had her father checked into Hearthside on July 12, 2016. He had dementia, lung disease and diabetes, and the facility had orders that in an emergency he get CPR.
“He had an advance directive, and they couldn’t find it,” Uitto’s attorney, Lawrence Kahn, said Friday. “They defaulted to letting him die.”
Things were OK when Black arrived, but that night he refused to eat or take his medicine, and was combative.
Staff members didn’t call his family then, or the next day, when his condition further deteriorated.
“According to Hearthside, Hearthside staff attempted but was unable to reach the on-call nurse … or other supervisors,” the lawsuit states.
After Black became unresponsive early July 14, someone from the facility called Uitto.
She arrived to find someone had moved her father to a mattress in the lobby, where he lay without a pulse, and that no one at Hearthside had called 911 or done CPR.
At Uitto’s insistence, staff members summoned emergency personnel, who declared him dead soon thereafter.
“Neither the medical nor paramedic records explain why or how Jim wound up dying on his mattress in the lobby open to all other residents and staff,” the complaint reads.
The suit also notes Hearthside charged Black’s family 30 percent above its base rate for his special needs, after an assessment of his medical history.
“Hearthside failed in every way to provide the services they had promised Nancy as consideration for the large payment she made to them,” it states.