Nursing home accused of wrongful death seeks protective order and to dismiss suit

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Nov 25, 2013

A retirement center blamed for failing to keep a patient hydrated, resulting in her death, has filed a motion for protective order to communicate with the plaintiff’s physicians.

According to the complaint filed Sept. 3, Barbara Van Voorden claims Apolonia Van Voorden, recently deceased, was living at defendant Eden Village Retirement Center and developed C. difficile diarrhea, resulting in sepsis and eventually her death on Nov. 11, 2012.

The plaintiff says she believes the death could have been prevented if the nursing staff would not have allowed her to become infected and dehydrated. She also alleges the staff failed to properly care for Apolonia Van Voorden, the suit states.

Eden Retirement Center filed a motion for protective order on Nov. 5 through attorneys Teresa D. Bartosiak and Jamie L. Bracewell of Sandberg, Phoenix & von Gontard in St. Louis “seeking a protective order permitting it to engage in confidential communications with current and former employees and potentially represent them at any future depositions.”

While a defendant is typically prohibited from communicating with a plaintiff’s treating physician, the defendant seeks a protective order arguing that its liability is premised on its employees’ alleged negligence.

Eden Retirement Center argues that any information regarding the decedent’s care would not violate confidentiality because the defendant is not a third party.

“Any medical information learned about a patient during the patient’s treatment, does not necessarily outweigh the hospital’s right to defend itself and to ‘unfettered’ communication with the physician for whose conduct it might be liable.”

Eden Retirement Center also filed a motion to dismiss on Oct. 8 claiming the plaintiff failed to allege full allegations and specify negligent allegations by only stating ‘“in her weakened condition.’”

The defendant also accuses the plaintiff of failing to file an affidavit and health care professional report and of failing to “plead a cause of action under a statutory basis that would allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees.”

Van Voorden filed an amended complaint on Nov. 7, specifying the negligent allegations in paragraph nine, which claims the defendant “failed to provide proper nutrition to plaintiff’s decedent, thereby resulting in her weakened condition.”

Van Voorden seeks a judgment of more than $50,000.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth scheduled a motion hearing for Dec. 20 at 9 a.m.

John J. Hopkins of John J. Hopkins & Associates in Alton represents the plaintiff.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-1490

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