Retaliatory discharge suit over alleged assisted living home neglect report settles

By Amelia Flood | Oct 1, 2009

A lawsuit over the alleged retaliatory discharge of an assisted living home worker over her reports of neglect that led to a resident's death in 2004 has settled.

The case had been scheduled for trial before Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla. The trial was set for Monday at 9 a.m.

According to the motion for dismissal filed by defendants Sept. 9, defendants Beverly Farm Foundation Inc., Vicky Vogt and Nancy Giffin agree to pay plaintiff Linda Wheeler "a certain sum" for a full and final release of all claims against them.

The defendants deny in their motion that Wheeler was fired in July 2004 in violation of the "public policy of the State of Illinois."

Each party is to bear its own costs and attorneys' fees.

In her 2006 complaint, Wheeler alleged that resident Theresa Finkle died June 29, 2004 due to the assisted living facility's negligence and neglect. Wheeler allegedly informed her employers of the issues and "unethical activity."

Her report included, she claims, instances of improper equipment use including the use of wheelchairs too large for residents, unqualified night shift staff who did not know how to raise and lock the backs of the chairs to avoid residents slipping from them, and neglect that may have violated the state's Nursing Home Care Act.

Wheeler claims she was then fired after making her report. She claims that Vogt and Giffin were responsible for her dismissal and that Vogt "acted maliciously with personal animosity" and that Giffin's accusation of Wheeler's negligence led to the firing.

Wheeler's suit sought damages for past and future lost wages and fringe benefits and past and future pain and suffering and punitive damages. She sought damages of more than $10,000 and less than $50,000 per count of her suit and costs.

Wheeler was represented by Michael Brunton of Collinsville.

The defendants were represented by Richard Korn of St. Louis.

The case is Madison case number 06-LM-853.

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