On May 10, 2011, a resident (described only as “Resident X”) in the dementia/Alzheimer’s unit at Sprain Brook Manor Nursing Home became agitated, falsely believing that the television in his room had been stolen or was otherwise missing. The resident, according to the Plaintiff, had a “known history of aggression.” The nurse in the unit proceeded to take Resident X to his room and show him that his television was, in fact, still in his room. According to the Plaintiff, this was “in a manner not appropriate for dealing with an agitated Alzheimer’s patient.” As Resident X became further enraged, another nursing home resident E. Benisatto stood up to intervene when Resident X pushed her down. Benisatto was transferred to the hospital where she was treated for a hip fracture and then subsequently returned to Sprain Brook Manor. Almost a month later, on June 1, 2011, Benisatto was readmitted to the hospital for “failing to thrive” – a diagnosis that is the result of several conditions, including malnutrition, bedsores and gangrene. Sadly, Benisatto passed away only one week later.
Benisatto’s family proceeded to sue Sprain Brook Manor Nursing Home alleging that the nursing home’s failure to properly monitor and handle Resident X, who had a “documented history of increasingly aggressive behavior” caused Benisatto’s injuries and untimely death. Benisatto’s family sought to recover damages based on six theories of liability. Sprain Brook Manor Nursing Home sought to dismiss all six theories of liability.
First, Benisatto’s family sought to recover damages based on the liability theory of Public Health Law. Under the PHL theory, Plaintiff asserted that nursing home was in contract with the client, wherein she would pay a monthly fee and the nursing home would, in turn, take care of her physical wellbeing (which they allegedly failed to do). The PHL theory also encompassed alleged deprivations of the Plaintiff’s rights as a nursing home resident afforded to her by state and federal regulations. Second, the family sought to recover damages based on the liability theory of negligent hiring and supervision – basically stating that Sprain Brook should not have hired or retained incompetent staff and should therefore be liable. Third and fourth, the family sought to recover damages based on the theory of negligence and gross negligence. Here, the family is essentially stating that there was an appropriate standard of care that was owed to Bensiatto and the nursing home violated this standard – and by possible a “gross deviation” of this standard of care. Fifth, the family sought to recover damages based on the theory of loss of consortium, a negligence theory where the family is entitled to recover damages due to the fact that they have lost a family member. Sixth, the family sought to recover damages based on the theory of wrongful death.
Sprain Brook rebutted the contentions arguing that: (1) the altercation occurred between two residents, (2) the staff was properly trained and certified (3) the staff followed proper procedures, (4) Resident X’s pushing was “spontaneous and unexpected”, and (5) all of the injuries suffered by Bensiatto were not a direct result of the push. The Court summarily rejected all of Sprain Brook’s motions to dismiss the theories of liability – holding that a jury should decide on all six theories put forth by the Bensiatto family. Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in her favor was also denied by the Court.