Siblings sue care center over brother's alleged wrongful death

Kelly Holleran Feb. 26, 2009, 4:37am

The brother and sister of a recently deceased St. Clair County man allege Southern Illinois Community Support Services staff did not provide adequate care for him and as a result, he died from complications of a hip surgery after he fell while taking a shower.

Donna K. Bickl and Charles E. Adams claim Richard Allen Taylor died in Belleville on Aug. 19 after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured left hip.

Taylor, who was a 54-year-old profoundly mentally retarded man incapable of caring for himself, was living in SICSSI when he sustained the fractured hip, according to the complaint filed Feb. 20 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

On Aug. 14, Taylor was taking a shower without the aid of a strap in a shower chair when he fell and fractured his hip, the suit states.

As a result, Taylor had to be hospitalized and had to have surgery on his left hip, Bickl and Adams claim.

Complications from the surgery caused him to die on Aug. 19, according to the complaint.

Before Taylor's death, he experienced severe pain, suffering, disfigurement and loss of a normal life and incurred medical expenses, the suit states.

Because of his death, his surviving relatives suffered grief, sorrow, mental suffering, loss of his society, deprivation of his companionship, deprivation of his love and deprivation of his affection, Bickl and Adams allege.

SICSSI was negligent by failing to have sufficient staff on hand with which to implement a care plan for Taylor, by failing to properly strap Taylor into his shower chair to prevent the incident from occurring and by failing to provide proper oversight and supervision of Taylor's shower activity, Bickl and Adams allege.

The center also negligently failed to change Taylor's care plan to reflect the fact he was less capable of performing his daily activities, experienced extreme turnover so that the quality of staff deteriorated over time, hired personnel when it should have known they were not capable of providing Taylor the care he required and failed to utilize an appropriate shower chair to provide showers to Taylor, according to the complaint.

In addition, SICSSI was negligent by failing to have its staff use gait belts around Taylor's torso so he could take a safe shower, the suit states.

In the four-count suit, Bickl and Adams are seeking a judgment greater than the minimum jurisdictional limits of St. Clair County Circuit Court, plus attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Paul W. Johnson of Kujawski and Associates in O'Fallon will be representing them.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-0091.

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