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Wrongful death lawsuit filed for fatal fall

Published on October 15th, 2008

Family sues nursing home after senior falls, dies (09/26/08 Orange County Register) By Rachanee Srisavasdi and Courtney Perkes

Luveda Fern Kessler fell and cut her leg as she got out of bed at her Laguna Hills assisted living apartment.   It was 1:33 a.m. The 83-year-old woman did as she had been told to do: Press a personal emergency response call button.  She waited, bleeding from the two-inch gash. Twenty-four minutes later, at 1:57 a.m., an unidentified staffer at Villa Valencia Health Care Center called 911.  Valencia is owned and operated by Sunrise Senior Living that owns hundreds of for profit nursing homes.

Paramedics arrived at 2:10 a.m. Kessler lay on her stomach, nonresponsive. She was soon pronounced dead at a local hospital. Villa Valencia did not report the incident to the state.  

The Virginia-based company – which runs 445 senior centers internationally – has garnered criticism in two other lawsuits this year over care of residents at Villa Valencia’s adjacent nursing home unit.

In one of the cases, a jury in May awarded $2 million to the family of Mary Adams, who died in March 2005 after a brief stay at the center. Lawyers representing the Adams family argued that Villa Valencia was understaffed to give Adams adequate treatment for her pressure ulcers – which lead to her death.

A nurse identified Kessler as being at risk for falls, but she was not given assistance getting out of bed or going to the bathroom.

"My preference would be to have her at my house,” said Joanne Kessler, who lives in Aliso Viejo. "But I have a condo with a tri-level. There’s no way she could handle stairs. I thought, ‘It was better than her being alone, back in Seal Beach.’ "

Joe Pioletti
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