Lawsuit Proceeds Against Health Workers Who Didn’t Report Abuse

Boller & Vaughan, along with Seattle law firm Graham, Lundburg and Peschel, is proud to report a recent unanimous victory before the Washington Supreme Court. In this case, which involved an 83-year-old woman living in an adult family home, two nurses from Alpha Nursing & Services, Inc., were aware of, but failed to report the abuse that ultimately resulted in her death. The woman’s family filed suit against various defendants, including Alpha Nursing & Services, Inc., and the two nurses. The lower courts dismissed the suit against these Alpha and the nurses in finding that the nurses had fulfilled any duty under the law to report the patient’s abuse. The Washington Supreme Court reversed the decisions of the lower courts and allowed a lawsuit to proceed against the nurses, finding that Washington’s abuse of vulnerable adults statute creates an implied cause of action against those individuals who fail to report abuse as required. As a result, it should be up to a jury to decide whether the nurses should be held financially responsible for their violations of the law.

Eighty-three-year-old Ho Im Bae was living in an adult family home in Lynnwood, WA, where she was physically abused and drugged by nursing assistants, which ultimately led to her death. Two nurses who were present in the home, but not caring for Bae, witnessed the woman falling to the floor, observed bruises on her face and head, and saw a nursing assistant dragging an unconscious Bae through the home. One nurse also learned that in-home staff was drugging Bae with morphine. Bae spoke no English, suffered from dementia, and often wandered the home at night. Nonetheless, one nurse made no report as to the abuse as a mandatory reporter under state law, and the other nurse mere left a non-emergency voicemail message on the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)’s hotline, several hours after leaving the home. Neither nurse alerted law enforcement of the abuse as per state law. Shortly thereafter, Bae died of a morphine overdose.

If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of medical staff at a nursing home or other healthcare facility or mandated reporters failed to disclose your loved one’s abuse or neglect as required, you may have a valid personal injury claim. This type of situation makes it essential to contact an experienced Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorney in order to protect your rights and obtain the financial relief that you deserve. Certain healthcare providers have an obligation under the law to report suspected abuse or neglect of a nursing home or other facility resident. Those who fail to do so, as the Washington Supreme Court ruled, must face the consequences of their actions. Hold negligent Wisconsin healthcare providers responsible for their actions. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how we can help you.