A Belleville nursing home seeks to dismiss a lawsuit alleging a patient died when she fell down a flight of stairs in a wheelchair, and the nursing home misrepresented the facts to authorities.
Mary J. Roth filed her lawsuit on April 2 against Midwest Rehabilitation and Respiratory Center LLC, doing business as Midwest Rehabilitation and Respiratory Center, and Senior Healthcare Management LLC on behalf of Cleda Juanita Simmons, deceased.
According to the complaint, Simmons was a resident of the defendant’s long-term nursing care facility. The decedent allegedly traveled down a hallway in her wheelchair on March 12, opened a fire door and fell down a flight of stairs in a fatal accident.
The plaintiff claims the defendant removed the decedent’s body from the scene of the accident without notifying authorities and further misrepresented the facts by claiming the facility had notified Simmons’ daughter.
As a result of the alleged accident, the plaintiff claims Simmons endured pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of dignity and disability in the time up until her death, the suit states.
Roth claims the defendant violated the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and the Illinois Survival Act. She also alleges conscious pain and suffering, wrongful death and spoliation of evidence.
Midwest Rehabilitation and Respiratory Center answered the complaint on June 15 through attorneys Daniel W. Farroll and Tara Wiebusch of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville, denying the allegations against it.
The defendants also filed a motion to dismiss on June 15.
They claim that Counts III and VII must be dismissed because they assert independent causes of action for conscious pain and suffering, which are “within the realm of actual damages that are recoverable under the Nursing Home Care Act.” Therefore, conscious pain and suffering is not an independent cause of action.
They add that Counts IV and VIII should be dismissed because Illinois does not recognize an independent tort for spoliation, which can only proceed as negligence claims.
“Assuming plaintiff’s claim sounds in negligence she must establish that defendants owed a duty to her to preserve the evidence, that the duty was breached, that the breach proximately caused plaintiff harm,” the motion states.
The defendants argue that the plaintiff pleads the legal conclusion that they owed her a duty, but failed to plead any facts supporting this conclusion. As a result, they claim dismissal is appropriate.
The defendants also claim portions of Counts III, IV, VII and VIII should be stricken, claiming numerous allegations are embedded within a single paragraph, which they say is prejudicial.
Roth seeks damages in excess of $50,000, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.
The plaintiff is represented by Brad L. Badgley of Belleville.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-190