Kelly Holleran Jul. 22, 2013, 4:52pm

The child of a recently deceased woman claims she suffocated to death after a windstorm knocked out the power supply to her home.

Darren Spruill filed a lawsuit July 15 in Madison County Circuit Court against American Homepatient.

In his complaint, Darren Spruill claims American Homepatient removed some equipment from the home where his mother, Shirley A. Spruill, was residing. The equipment the company took included a back-up battery powered oxygen concentrator that would have provided a consistent flow of oxygen in case of a power outage, according to the complaint.

Shirley A. Spruill, a lung cancer patient with a compromised pulmonary and respiratory system, had required oxygen and the related equipment to assist her in breathing and to sustain her life, the suit states.

Just before her death, she had been discharged from Alton Memorial Hospital and was under the care of BJC Home Services, which brought various oxygen equipment to Shirley A. Spruill’s home on Locust Street in Alton. However, on Dec. 20, American Homepatient removed some of the equipment, including a battery powered portable oxygen concentrator, without authority to do so, the complaint says.

At about 4 p.m. on Dec. 20, a windstorm struck Alton, causing a tree to fall and to damage a transformer that provided electricity to the home at 2512 Locust St. The home lost electricity, and, in turn, Shirley A. Spruill’s oxygen equipment stopped working, according to the complaint.

Without the back-up battery-powered oxygen, Shirley A. Spruill suffocated and died during the electrical outage, the suit states.

“While plaintiff’s decedent Shirley A. Spruill was suffocating, she suffered substantial pain, discomfort, fright, anxiety and became aware that she was then and there dying,” the complaint says.

In his complaint, Darren Spruill seeks a judgment of more than $100,000, plus costs.

Robert D. Larson of Alton will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-1165.

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