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June 16, 2023

December 21, 2023

A Kansas jury determined that a skilled care facility was not liable for a woman’s falls that resulted in hip fractures that her family alleged hastened her death.

“She’d had multiple falls, but they were non-injury falls,” said defense attorney John Hicks of Norris Keplinger Hicks & Welder, “the type of fall that facility staff would find her in someone else’s room sitting on the ground not hurt, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Patricia Schmid was an Alzheimer’s patient at Richmond Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center who suffered fractures to both hips in the summer of 2017 due to falls before ultimately dying in late September of that year.

“Regarding the first hip fracture, they failed to follow their plan of care and failed to provide the appropriate care that had been identified that the decedent needed,” said Rachel Stahle of Dollar Burns Becker & Hershewe, who represented her survivors. “To be more specific, she was supposed to be supervised.”

The suit filed claimed wrongful death, lost chance of survival and negligence.

Hicks said she was checked on every 15 minutes.

“You couldn’t possibly have somebody walking with every resident every hour of the day,” he said. “Even if you could, it isn’t allowed under the law because that’s considered intrusive.”

Hicks said that plaintiffs’ experts claimed the fractures ultimately led to death, but his experts opined that her health was declining in general due to dementia and that it was Alzheimer’s that ended her life.

Stahle felt that it was a well-tried case and that her side got some damaging admissions from the defense witnesses, but it simply wasn’t enough for the jury.

“I think if it had been a different venue, I think we’d have had a different outcome,” she said.

This article was written by David Baugher and published in Missouri Lawyers Media.