Hagens Berman represented Marcell Benoit in a case of extreme nursing home negligence. Mr. Benoit suffered falls, pressure ulcers of the highest stage of severity, and was found in soiled garments. His room nearly caught on fire, and his emergency call button had been disconnected.
In January of 2012, Marcell Benoit was admitted to Avamere Olympic Rehabilitation nursing home of Sequim following surgery to repair a dislocated right hip. His post-surgery state left him mentally and medically fragile, and as a result, he was totally dependent on the assistance and care of others to carry out basic living activities including bathing, fall prevention, preparing meals, using the bathroom and more.
Avamere made a commitment to Mr. Benoit that it would provide trained staff at staffing levels necessary to provide appropriate care and rehabilitation, and his family thought they had made the right choice in Avamere as it claimed to be able to meet his need for 24-hour care and supervision.
Within days of Mr. Benoit’s arrival at Avamere in Sequim, pressure ulcers had developed on his back, tailbone and heel. Before and after these ulcers were discovered, Avamere failed to take appropriate measures to relieve pressure from the areas of his body most susceptible to skin breakdown. Avamere also did not act to ensure the ulcers wouldn’t deteriorate further.
While Mr. Benoit’s ulcers progressed, Avamere repeatedly assured his family that they were healing. Avamere knew this was untrue. They were worsening.
Soon after he was admitted to Avamere, Mr. Benoit suffered multiple falls while at the nursing home, and under Avamere’s care:
- On Jan. 30, 2012, Mr. Benoit fell from his wheelchair and dislocated his hip.
- On Feb. 4, 2012, staff dislocated Mr. Benoit’s hip while transferring him from his bed to his wheelchair.
- On Feb. 17, 2012, Mr. Benoit fell from his bed at Avamere and his hip was dislocated for a third time in less than three weeks.
The complaint states, “On March 5, 2012, Avamere staff found Mr. Benoit feverish and unresponsive. He was transported to the hospital by ambulance and was described as ‘chronically ill looking’ by doctors when he arrived. Hospital staff described Mr. Benoit as malnourished. When he arrived at the hospital, Mr. Benoit was found in undergarments soiled with feces. Hospital staff also discovered a gaping deep black hole on Mr. Benoit’s coccyx. According to hospital staff, the bedsore reeked of rotting flesh.”
The last time Mr. Benoit’s son visited him at Avamere, he found his father alone in his room, unsupervised (after having fallen three separate times), and the room was filled with smoke. The staff had placed a mattress pad on top of the room’s heater, which was smoldering. The staff was totally unaware. Mr. Benoit’s son also discovered that the emergency call button in his father’s room had been detached and was nonfunctional.
On Mar. 26, 2012, the pressure ulcer on Mr. Benoit’s heel was determined to be a Stage IV bedsore. Stage IV ulcers are the most severe type and are characterized by full thickness tissue loss with exposed bone, tendon and/or muscle.
All the while, Avamere continued to falsely assure Mr. Benoit’s family that he was in good care, and his sores were healing. His family “frequently expressed concerns” about his care, according to the lawsuit, and on Mar. 30, 2012, he was discharged from Avamere to his daughter’s home.