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Nursing-Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settled

Apr 29, 2003 | The Tallahassee Democrat The former owners of a Gadsden County nursing home agreed to pay $2.2 million to the family of a patient who developed infections and flesh rot so severe that his genitals had to be amputated, records show.

The former parent companies of River Chase Care Center agreed to settle a wrongful death suit last week with the children of 62-year-old Lloyd Massey Oliver Sr., who died in November 2001, lawyers said.

"It's the worst case of abuse we've seen in a while," Oliver family attorney Steve Andrews of Tallahassee said Monday. "The care has, however, gotten better there since they added staff."

Pensacola attorney David Fugett, who represents RHA/Florida and HealthPrime, the center's former operators, did not return a call seeking comment. Oliver's son, Lloyd Massey Oliver Jr., also could not be reached.

Oliver was a construction worker when an on-the-job accident in the late 1970s paralyzed his lower body, the suit said. His wife divorced him soon after, and in 1988 he was admitted to River Chase.

Oliver was in the home for 13 years. His care began to decline in 1995, according to the suit. He eventually suffered from nearly three dozen bedsores, unexplained burns, malnutrition, dehydration and gangrene of the genitals, which required their removal, the suit said.

Nursing home workers eventually "conspired to conceal" Oliver's worsening physical and mental condition - including an undiagnosed stroke - from his family, the suit said.

For instance, the facility's staff let Oliver lie in bed and sit in a wheelchair alone for hours at a time, contributing to his bedsores, and "altered, defaced or falsified" medical records to cover it up, according to the suit.

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