Community Assisted Living is settling wrongful death claim after discussing immunity due to COVID

(Image source: krisanapong detraphiphat / Getty Images)

According to a media report, a wrongful death lawsuit against Wilmington, North Carolina, with the help of a neighborhood community beating another person to death by another resident, has been settled out of court.

Spring Arbor of Wilmington has argued broad immunity against the lawsuit, which sought more than $100,000, under a $1.6 billion pandemic relief package approved by state lawmakers early on during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April 2021, the Garland Garrett family filed a lawsuit against Glenn Allen, Virginia-based HHHunt Property Management, the parent company of Spring Arbor of Wilmington, and the former CEO of Spring Arbor after Garrett died after the September 6, 2020, beating that occurred while he sleeps. Garrett was allegedly attacked by fellow resident Thomas Gunther, with whom Garrett shared an adjacent bathroom.

According to the lawsuit, Garrett, 80, the former North Carolina Secretary of Transportation, suffered from advanced dementia and sustained numerous injuries, including fractures to his spine and nose, after the attack. He was transferred from the hospital to hospice care, where he died six days after the accident.

Garrett’s family claimed that the Memory and Living Care community did not protect him from Gunther, who also had dementia, aphasia, depression and had a history of violent behaviour. The lawsuit also alleged that the community violated state regulations by not laying off a person who could not meet their needs and endangering others in the community. Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that Spring Arbor did not have safety measures in place to address dementia-related behaviors.

The legal proceedings listed at least 27 incidents of Günther hitting or physically threatening community residents and staff.

At the time of the accident, the state’s Department of Health Services Regulation ruled that the community did not supervise its residents, and imposed a fine. Prosecutors said they did not file criminal charges against Gunther because of his impaired mental capacity.

HHHunt Property Management and Spring Arbor Senior Living did not respond to a request for comment from Senior life at McKnight By the production deadline, but after the lawsuit was filed, Spring Arbor regional manager Randy Jackson released a statement to local media that said: “Our hearts are with members of Mr. Garrett’s family. The Spring Arbor of Wilmington families are tasked with the care and safety of their loved ones, and we address this responsibility on Seriously.Since 1997, Spring Arbor of Wilmington has provided personalized care for our seniors.Our privacy policies and laws prevent us from discussing the needs of any of our residents.However, we can adamantly say that this accusation [attorney Joel Rhine of the Rhine Law Firm] About our care in our communities is untrue.”

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