Dudensing Law secures $5.5 million settlement against a California residential care facility after walkaway tragedy

June 10, 2024
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In May 2024, Dudensing Law reached a $5.5 million settlement against an assisted living facility located in California. The settlement was on behalf of a cognitively impaired individual who, because of improper supervision and negligence, left the facility unsupervised, and died as a result.

When the 87-year-old patient was admitted to the residential care facility, she was highly functional but suffered notable cognitive impairment, including “sundowning,” a state of confusion experienced in the late afternoon and lasting into the evening. Even with noted cognitive impairment, her charts maintained by the facility did not contain a documented elopement risk nor a care plan for her cognitive decline.

In June 2023, the patient left the facility unsupervised with her dog in the early evening. Early the next morning, she was found unresponsive in the parking lot and was pronounced dead upon transference to an area hospital. The facility did not go looking for her until the next morning when they saw her dog wandering unattended.

The negligence of the facility staff endangered the physical and emotional health of the patient, ultimately leading to her unsupervised elopement and untimely death. The $5.5 million settlement reflects not only compensation for the family’s loss and suffering but highlights the critical need for enhanced standards and accountability in care facilities.

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