Notice of Tort Claim Filed over Death of Woman Assaulted in New Jersey State-Run Institution

When the negligence of a government entity causes injuries or death, the injured person or the family may seek compensation. Anyone who intends to sue a government entity is required to file a notice of tort claim. The claimant then waits 6 months before filing a complaint against the entity in question.

The family of a 68-year-old New Jersey woman, who died after being assaulted by a cottage mate in a state institution for people with developmental disabilities, filed a notice of tort claim in February 2014 declaring their intent to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the state. The decedent’s sisters claimed that supervision and care had declined at the facility after the state determined it would be closed; and as a result, the number of transfers of employees and residents increased. They believe the institution neglected their sister’s medical needs after she was assaulted 4 months before her death.

In the early morning of May 26, the victim was found by a member of the staff on the floor of her room. Blood was coming from the nasal area and she suffered a cut on the bridge of her nose. She had been physically abused by another resident in the facility, causing her to incur severe facial injuries. She was treated at a hospital for three days.

In August, the woman broke her foot and ankle and spent a few days at the hospital for surgery. Upon discharge, her treatment plan stated that she needed a wheelchair and assistance to get out of bed. Two days later, she was taken to the ER. She had very low blood pressure and was gasping for air. Someone in the facility told the victim’s sister that the she had been fed for days in a non-reclining bed, which might have caused her to aspirate food into her lungs. In September 2013, the elderly woman died due to aspirate pneumonia and septic shock while recuperating at the facility.

Human Services, an independent state agency, reviewed the victim’s medical records and conducted staff interviews. The facility found that two staff members did not properly document the events that led to the physical abuse. As a result, they were disciplined for failure to follow proper administrative protocol.

Because the facility is run by the state, the plaintiffs are seeking compensation from the state of New Jersey for their sister’s death. They claim that the victim was either neglected and not properly taken care of, or was abused and neglected; and the people responsible for are still caring for disabled residents at the facility. They were not put on leave while the case was under investigation, which  implies that there’s a low level of care being provided to New Jersey’s developmentally-disabled.

If your loved one has suffered injuries or wrongful death in a state-run institution due to neglect and abuse, it’s best to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

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