Third trial this year against Rosewood gets under way

Steve Gonzalez Dec. 6, 2007, 10:33am

Brad Lakin

An Edwardsville woman will be asking a Madison County jury for more than $100,000 in damages as a wrongful death trial against Rosewood Care Center gets under way in Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian's courtroom.

Vickey Metz claims her mother, Blanche Rexing, entered Rosewood in Edwardsville for rehabilitation and died of acute toxicity from oxycodone and opiates. According to the complaint, Rexing was a resident at Rosewood from June 16, 2005, until her death on Aug. 27, 2005,

Metz claims that Rosewood failed to provide reasonable and standard nursing care, failed to provide a sufficient number of nursing staff, failed to train its nursing staff, failed to provide necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well being and failed to administer the proper doses of medications as ordered.

She also claims Rosewood failed to ensure that her mother was free of any significant medication errors within the acceptable standards of care.

Metz claims her mother and her estate incurred medical expenses, intense pain and suffering, loss of the enjoyment of life, disability and ultimately death.

She also is seeking punitive damages in excess of $50,000, alleging the acts of Rosewood were willful and wanton.

Metz is represented by Brad Lakin of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River.

Rosewood denies any wrongdoing.

This is the third trial against Rosewood this year. In March, Madison County Circuit Judge Dave Hylla declared a mistrial in a case against Rosewood Care Center of Edwardsville after jurors failed to reach a verdict.

Hylla excused the deadlocked jurors who could not unanimously decide on Rosewood's alleged negligence in its care of Alfred Graves.

Paul Graves sued the nursing home after his father suffered a fractured hip six hours into his respite care visit in January 2003.

Plaintiff's attorney Robert Gregory argued that Alfred Graves "was in essence forgotten" when, while still in his street clothes, fell on the way to the bathroom at 12:24 a.m. on Jan. 18, 2003.

But Rosewood attorney Kevin Hoerner said the nursing home did not fail to complete any assessment as required before "the poor gentleman fell."

He also said that Rosewood Care Center relied upon the assessment made by Graves' primary physician who was contacted "first thing" upon admission. Graves' physician did not put any restrictions on his activity level, Hoerner said.

In October, a jury awarded the family of Rosewood Care Center resident Margaret Schwab, but entered a judgment of $58,000, a fraction of the $1 million in damages they requested.

The lawsuit was brought in 2004 by Thomas Schwab, who claimed Margaret Schwab's neck and back injuries suffered during a fall in her room on Dec. 21, 2003 led to her death.

During closing arguments, plaintiff attorney Craig Jensen of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River insisted his case wasn't about the money.

Rosewood attorney Stephen Strum said the nursing staff witnesses put before the jury were "mentally beaten up" by attorney Jensen.

Strum said that Mrs. Schwab's family was happy with her treatment and that there was "not one single complaint from them." He said that good nursing judgment was used in her care.

The current trial is expected to last around one week.

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