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North Carolina Nursing Home Named in Lawsuit over Resident's Strangulation

Oct 30, 2015

The daughter of a woman who died 18 days after being strangled at a North Carolina nursing home has filed a lawsuit seeking relief on numerous charges.

Mary Bowling did not die at Carolina Rivers Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Jacksonville, North Carolina home where she was a resident. But, according to the death certificate and medical examiner's report, doctors believe she was strangled at the facility on September12, 2014. She died 18 days later in hospice care at Onslow Memorial Hospital, StarNewsOnline reports.

The legal complaint alleges that the nursing home, "knew that it was foreseeable that its residents were vulnerable and subject to intentional abuse by employees, visitors and other residents," according to StarNewsOnline. The cause of death was determined to be the result of "consequences of strangulation," the medical examiner's report states. Authorities have not identified the person who strangled Bowling and their investigation continues.

The lawsuit names as defendants Maple LTC Group LLC, Principle Long Term Care Inc. and Principle IT Services Inc. In September 2014, at the time of the attack, Principle Long Term Care and Principle IT Services operated more than 40 long-term care facilities in North Carolina.

Bowling was admitted to Carolina Rivers on April 18, 2012, after she suffered anoxic brain injury in which her brain had been deprived of oxygen. Because of her injury, she relied on the "defendants for all her activities of daily living," according to the legal complaint. On the day of the attack, Bowling had no visitors from 12:13 a.m. to 6:51 a.m. At 12:13 a.m., staff noticed "no acute changes were noted in Ms. Bowling's condition," StarNewsOnline reports. But at 6:51 a.m., Bowling "was bleeding out of her ears … and her face was slightly purple," according to the complaint. Staff notified the facility's director of nursing and left a voicemail for her doctor. At 11:48 a.m., nursing staff received orders to send Bowling to the hospital's emergency department. Bowling remained at Onslow Memorial from September 12th to the 23rd. She died at Lower Cape Fear Hospice on September 30.

The legal complaint cites "assault and battery" and the medical costs incurred because of the attack. The complaint also describes "ordinary negligence" and the care facility's duty to protect residents from third parties, including nursing-home employees. "Mary Bowling could not engage in any physical activity without the assistance of an employee of defendants," and therefore her injuries could not have occurred without some "some negligent act or omission," StarNewsOnline reports. The legal complaint also alleges that Bowling did not receive "appropriate and timely medical intervention," according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges "corporate negligence," accusing the defendants of not ensuring adequate staff to meet residents' needs; not ensuring that abuse policies were implemented and followed; and not providing training so that employees could recognize the symptoms of abuse.

The plaintiffs also seek wrongful death and punitive damages for alleged "outrageous or aggravated conduct," and "wanton disregard of the safety of Mary Bowling," according to StarNewsOnline.

Carolina Rivers was placed on "immediate jeopardy" status because "inspectors determined that the nursing home failed to: protect each resident from all abuse, physical punishment and being separated from others; provide necessary care and services to maintain the highest well being of each resident; and immediately failed to tell the resident the resident's doctor and a family member of the resident of situations (injury/decline/room, etc.) that affect the resident," according to The nursing home faces federal fines of $23,855.

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