Philadelphia Assisted Living Center Sued by Family of Visually Impaired Resident Who Died After Leaving Facility Through an Allegedly Alarmed Door and Falling Approximately Two Stories onto Sidewalk
Pennsylvania regulators have identified three other recent incidents of residents leaving the Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley facility unaccompanied by staff members
Philadelphia, Pa. – Two daughters of a 78-year-old visually impaired woman suffering from dementia who died in July 2018 after leaving the Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley assisted living center unattended and unsupervised through an alarmed door and who ultimately fell off a retaining wall approximately 15 feet to the sidewalk below filed a lawsuit today against the facility and its security contractor in Pennsylvania state court.
The suit alleges that Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley and its security contractor, U.S. Security Associates, were both negligent and grossly negligent for failing to put the appropriate systems, processes, and precautions in place to prevent such an event from happening, especially where similar instances involving unsupervised residents who wandered from the facility had occurred previous to this tragedy.
According to the lawsuit, on July 8, 2018, at around 5:36 p.m., Barbara Jones-Davis opened an unguarded and unlocked door on the side of the facility overlooking Washington Lane in Germantown. Despite the door allegedly being armed with an alarm, Ms. Jones-Davis wandered alone outside and confused for at least 23 minutes until she walked to the edge of the property and fell almost two stories down to the sidewalk below. Ms. Jones-Davis was found alive by a passerby and transported to Albert Einstein Medical Center where she ultimately died from her injuries.
The entire 23 minutes Ms. Jones-Davis spent wandering outside of the building was captured on video by a surveillance camera at the facility overlooking the door Ms. Jones-Davis walked through when she left the facility.
According to the surveillance video, no one from the facility responded to the alarm for 25 minutes. At that time, the video shows someone believed to be a U.S. Security employee arriving at the door and closing it, apparently scanning the door with an electronic device, and walking away without inspecting the property for any residents who may have left. According to the complaint, no one from Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley was aware that Ms. Jones-Davis had left the building or had been injured until a nurse received a call almost an hour after Ms. Jones-Davis wandered out of the building.
“Assisted living facilities and their staff have a legal duty—and I would argue a moral duty as well—to act reasonably, to act in ways consistent with how licensed professional healthcare providers act, and to provide a safe environment for people like Ms. Jones-Davis who are among the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Daniel Jeck, an attorney at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., and an attorney for Ms. Jones-Davis’s daughters. “Based on what we’ve alleged in this lawsuit and what anyone can see from the surveillance video, we think Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley failed miserably in fulfilling that duty.”
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services, this was not the first time a resident left the facility unattended. A December 2016 survey conducted by the agency identified three separate instances where residents of Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley left the facility unattended.
“For those of us with parents or family members in assisted living facilities, the surveillance video footage and the allegations in this lawsuit are difficult to stomach,” said Joshua B. Schwartz, an attorney at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., and an attorney for Ms. Jones-Davis’s daughters. “The family of Ms. Jones-Davis hopes that this lawsuit will serve as a wake-up call for—and propel change at—facilities like Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley that are entrusted to take care of our family members who cannot take care of themselves.”
The daughters’ legal claims against Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley and its security contractor U.S. Security Associates include claims of professional negligence, negligence, and gross negligence against the facility, and claims of negligence and gross negligence against the security company.