Family of Woman Who Died at Senior Living Center Files Federal Lawsuit

April 08, 2018 10:16 PM

The family of 88-year-old Ada Yakal has filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming the senior living facility where she stayed in Roseville was legally responsible for her safety and, ultimately, her death. 

Yakal was found trapped between her bed and a physical therapy pole in December 2016. 

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Sunrise Senior Living Center Management, along with Gentiva Certified Healthcare Corp., have been named in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

RELATED: Family of Woman Who Died at Roseville Assisted Living Facility Retains Lawyer

Sunrise and Gentiva work jointly to provide services and care to patients at 2525 Snelling Avenue in Roseville.

That included Yakal.

Yakal had Alzheimer's disease and other medical issues, and could no longer take care of herself. She went to stay at Sunrise, which provided round-the-clock supervision and physical therapy services through Gentiva/Kindred Healthcare. 

"Her family put a lot of trust and faith in them to keep her safe," said attorney Andrew Gross, of Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm.

The suit contends Yakal was known to fall from bed on occasion. The facility documented a fall only days before the final, fatal fall on December 28, 2016.  

Court records say a physical therapist recommended a transfer pole – a vertical pole attached to the ceiling and floor – to support Yakal as she got out of bed and into a wheelchair. Yakal's relatives bought the recommended security pole, and facility staff installed it.

However, Yakal's attorneys contend, the pole wasn't installed according to the manufacturers instructions or Food and Drug Administration recommendations. Also, there was a warning included in the instruction about the risk of entrapment. It stated the pole shouldn't be closer than the person's ability to safely walk around it.  

Sunrise Senior Living Facility said in a statement Sunday, "The safety and well-being of our residents is always a top priority."

Gentriva/Kindred has not responded to requests for comment. 

According to an investigative report by the Minnesota Department of Health, the facility administration acknowledged it didn't have a policy that specified a safe distance from the bed, and that staff used their own judgment; in this case, a fist-width distance from the bed.  

That meant a gap of roughly five inches, just wide enough, according to Yakal's attorneys, to endanger her life.

RELATED: Health Department: Roseville Facility Neglected Resident in Apparent Suffocation Death

"Effectively what happens is the bed becomes a gallows," said attorney Mark Kosieradzki. "And if a patient rolls into that noose, they're gonna hang."

Investigative reports say staff found Yakal wedged between her bed and the pole, and staff had to move the bed to free Yakal's body. Her blood was still on the pole when her family arrived.

"That's a pretty awful way to be found, and pretty horrific for her family," Gross said.

The health department cited Sunrise for "neglect and maltreatment" in October 2017.  

The lawsuit also alleges that Sunrise and Gentriva/Kindred weren't compliant with FDA recommendations.

"We filed this lawsuit because you hold them accountable," Kosieradzki said. "Then there's going to be a difference, and people's lives will be saved. That's what this case is about."  

Kosieradzki went on to say that transfer poles are safe when installed as labeled. Added Gross: "This family is taking a major step to prevent this kind of death from happening in the future."



 

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Beth McDonough

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