The family of a Toms River, New Jersey man has sued a Shohola senior living center, charging that the facility caused his death, after sending him home in a three-hour Uber ride, despite warnings from state health officials.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Scranton by attorney Steven McConnell of the Killino Firm’s Philadelphia office, charges Twin Cedars Senior Living LLC and its successor, Little Walker Holdings, LLC with negligence and wrongful death in Hamill’s September 2019 passing.
According to the lawsuit, Eugene Hamill moved to Twin Cedars on July 6, 2018. During his stay, he suffered from multiple serious medical conditions, including hypertension, heart disease, and bone cancer.
In September 2018, Administrator Tamara Singer informed a licensing supervisor at the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services of Hamill’s discharge plan. Twin Cedar’s intention, motivated solely by financial considerations, was to transport Hamill to his Tom’s River home, an over three-hour car ride away, using Uber, the lawsuit alleges.
Although the licensing supervisor warned that this was an unsafe discharge, and could legally constitute abandonment of an older adult by a caregiver, Singer sent Hamill home by Uber on September 11, 2018.
During the ride, Hamill began vomiting and became unresponsive, according to the DHS violation notice. By the end of it, he suffered a stroke and a heart attack, requiring transport to Barnabas Health Community Medical Center, where he was intubated, placed on a ventilator, and admitted to the ICU. Hamill was eventually transferred to another nursing facility, where he spent the last year of his life; he died on September 26, 2019.
On December 20, 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services revoked Twin Cedars’ license for failure to provide a 30-day discharge notice, and for violating the licensing regulation, that “a resident may not be neglected, intimidated, physically, or verbally abused, mistreated, subjected to corporal punishment, or disciplined in any way.” Twin Cedars was forced to operate under a provisional license and directed to implement measures to ensure the facility would not violate state regulations in the future.
The lawsuit notes that before and after Hamill’s unsafe discharge –Twin Cedars had an “abysmal record” of numerous violations against the state’s Personal Care Home regulations, including at least one other violation related to resident abuse.