Meyers & Flowers Files Lawsuit Against St. Charles Assisted-living Facility Over Unnoticed Elopement of Dementia Resident
Family of 72-year-old man seeks justice for 23-hour disappearance
(Chicago, Illinois – February 23, 2022) - Meyers & Flowers’ Trial Attorneys Michael W. Lenert and Lauren E. Edmunds filed suit on behalf of a 72-year-old man who sustained severe and permanent injuries when he eloped from his assisted-living facility.
In February 2020, Bob’s family made the difficult and costly decision to move Bob to an assisted-living facility as he required consistent supervision due to his progressive dementia. Bob’s family selected Autumn Leaves in St. Charles based upon its proximity to their home and Autumn Leaves’ stated mission to solely focus on helping those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, similar to Bob, thrive in an environment that is safe, comfortable, and feels just like home.
During the time Bob resided at Autumn Leaves, he was known by its staff to exhibit “exit-seeking” behaviors, meaning Bob would attempt to leave the facility unaccompanied which is quite common with residents suffering from dementia and other cognitive impairments. On the evening of May 3, 2021, Bob attempted to leave the facility through its front door but was quickly brought back inside by its staff members. Not less than 15 minutes later, video surveillance footage showed Bob open a side exit door which triggered an alarm. When no staff members responded to the activation of the side door alarm, Bob proceeded to walk out the door, through a courtyard and off the facility’s grounds, crossing a busy roadway. Unfortunately, despite the door alarm sounding, Bob’s absence went undetected for nearly 12 hours when staff members noticed he failed to appear for breakfast.
An hour after Bob’s elopement was first discovered by Autumn Leaves, the St. Charles police responded to a missing persons call that led to the launch of a massive search and rescue operation involving eleven other state and federal governmental agencies. Despite the extensive efforts made, including the use of aerial drone searches, deployed canines, on-foot searches with more than 30 volunteers, and dispatched police officers scouring the area, it took 23 hours from the time Bob disappeared to finally be located and rescued.
Law enforcement officers found Bob lying in a wooded area more than a mile from the assisted living center fighting to keep warm. Shortly thereafter, he was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where he was admitted for several days. Unfortunately, he has not fully recovered from his serious injuries.
“Assisted living facilities have a responsibility to provide their residents with the appropriate level of supervision to ensure their well-being,” Mr. Lenert said. “Bob' s situation was entirely preventable had this facility elected to have adequate staffing and safeguards in place to protect Bob. Unfortunately, the evidence makes clear that Autumn Leaves consciously disregarded Bob’s safety by knowingly being short-staffed, falsifying its bed checks, and failing to respond to a door alarm when it knew that Bob had attempted to leave the facility just a few minutes earlier.”
The lawsuit filed against the assisted living facility by Meyers & Flowers attorneys Michael Lenert and Lauren Edmunds details the multitude of failures of the facility; including failing to perform any of the required safety checks of its residents every two hours, failing to detect Bob’s disappearance from the facility for approximately 12 hours, failing to search the grounds after the side-exit door’s alarm triggered, failing to ensure sufficient staffing levels, failing to develop appropriate elopement control and prevention policies, as well as reporting false information related to Bob’s disappearance to the responding law enforcement officials.
“Though no legal case can erase the hurt and suffering caused by Autumn Leaves’ deliberate disregard for the well-being of its residents, Bob’s family has elected to pursue this case to ensure that Autumn Leaves and other local facilities are held accountable and take the necessary measures to avert this preventable situation from happening to other memory care facility residents,” stated Ms. Edmunds. “This is not the facility’s first offense related to elopement, but we hope to make it their last.”
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of neglect or abuse at a nursing home or assisted living facility, please contact Meyers & Flowers at (630) 232-6333 for a free consultation. With over five billion dollars recovered for our clients, our team is confident we can obtain the compensation you and your family deserve.
About Meyers & Flowers
Led by Illinois Super Lawyer and former President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association Peter J. Flowers, our team of experienced trial attorneys and medical malpractice lawyers routinely take on large challenges and succeed. In addition to representing clients locally in Chicago and nationally in a full spectrum of cases involving catastrophic personal injuries, medical malpractice, workplace injuries and wrongful death, our attorneys have taken the lead nationally in representing clients who are victims of defective medical products.