Lebanon nursing home denies wrongful death allegations

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Nov 25, 2013

A Lebanon nursing home accused of inadequately treating a woman, which allegedly led to her death, has denied allegations made in a St. Clair County lawsuit and demanded a trial by jury.

According to the complaint filed Sept. 4, Chris Swancutt claims staff at the Covenant Care Midwest, doing business as Cedar Ridge Health Care and Rehab Center, failed to inform deceased Sandra Swancutt’s doctor that she began showing signs of physical deterioration, including vomiting and gastrointestinal disorders in December 2011.

Her condition went unnoticed until Dec. 15, 2011, when her power of attorney came to visit her and immediately directed that she be taken to Memorial Hospital in Belleville.

While at the hospital, she was diagnosed with various conditions and a stroke. She remained in the hospital until she died on Dec. 25, 2011, the suit states.

Chris Swancutt accuses the nursing home staff of failing to notify her power of attorney and physician of her worsening condition. They also allegedly failed to provide her with adequate nutrition and hydration, failed to timely treat and monitor her urinary tract infection and failed to properly transfer her to a hospital.

Defendant Covenant Care Midwest filed an answer to the complaint on Oct. 1 through attorneys Jeffrey L. Dunn and Leslie M. Warren of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard in St. Louis denying the allegations.

It also filed 13 affirmative defenses arguing that the plaintiff failed to state a claim of action upon which relief can be granted.

The defendant blames Sandra Swancutt for being “comparatively at fault and contributory negligent for her injuries.”

It further states, “Any injuries or damages sustained by the plaintiff was caused in whole or in part by the acts or omission by the decedent, including but not limited to, failing to mitigate her own injuries, failing to act in her own best interests regarding her conditions in health care, and assumption of the risk.”

Swancutt refuted the affirmative defenses on Oct. 7.

The suit also names nurse Stephanie Moore and an advanced practice nurse, identified only as K. Arnold, as defendants for allegedly failing to obtain an appropriate history of Sandra Swancutt, failing to timely examine her and failing to promptly request that she be taken to a hospital.

Covenant Care filed a motion for substitution of judge “as a matter of right” on Nov. 1, which was granted on Nov. 5. St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien was originally assigned to the case.

The plaintiff seeks a judgment of more than $50,000.

Alan G. Pirtle of Becker, Paulson, Hoerner and Thompson in Belleville represents the plaintiff.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-L-452

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