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In New Jersey, death caused by negligence may provoke lawsuit

When a loved one enters assisted living, it can be a relief to New Jersey family members who want the best care for their relative. Assisted living facilities provide residents with medical care and whatever other assistance a doctor requests for them. That is why the unexpected death of a resident may spark questions and investigations that may ultimately lead to fines and lawsuits.

The sons of a 91-year-old man who choked to death in an assisted living facility have filed suit against the home after that state's Department of Public Health fined the home $80,000 for the incident. The man's doctor had ordered a soft food diet and directed that the man have one-on-one help as he ate. Allegedly, his diet was not followed, and the two nursing assistants assigned to help him apparently did not attend to him exclusively. He aspirated a large piece of chicken and choked to death.

Within the first year of being admitted to the facility, the man reportedly had two similar incidents where he choked on food he should not have been served. Despite the heavy fine levied against it, the home denies any deficiencies in its care. The man's sons are suing for elder abuse, wrongful death and other violations.

Although the man was in his nineties, he was alert and conscious of his surroundings. His family reported that he complained about the inadequate staffing in the facility. Now, they are left to understand why their father, who was loved and honored in his community, is no longer with them. When families in New Jersey face the death of a loved one due to apparent negligence, they may find comfort in the advice of an attorney who is determined to protect the rights of those who need it most.

Source:, "Avalon Care Center fined for patient death", Lacey Peterson, May 28, 2016

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Alan D. Bell
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