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Lawsuit blames death of New Mexico man on assisted-living home

Excessive medication, profit motives and placing their loved one with an aggressive roommate are all on the list of accusations made by a New Mexico family in its wrongful death lawsuit against a Rio Rancho assisted-living home. The wife of a deceased 79-year-old man diagnosed with dementia, his two daughters and his son claim that the negligence of the company and its staff led to the man being attacked by his roommate. He died of a brain hemorrhage three weeks later.

The male roommate who the family members claim beat and kicked the decedent also had dementia and was a retired police officer. The police report stated that neither of the men could explain what had caused the fatal attack.

One of the decedent's daughters said that the roommate tried to hit her with a belt when she visited her father on one occasion. According to the lawsuit, the facility failed to protect the decedent from his hostile roommate. New Mexico law states that people who pose a danger to others should not be admitted to assisted-living homes. Along with the facility and its parent company Brookdale Senior Living, Inc., the care director at the facility is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The family is hoping to make the defendants pay punitive damages.

In situations where a loved one is fatally injured through the negligence of another, the decedent's personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent's family members. In this type of an action, a range of damages can be sought. In addition to reasonable funeral and burial expenses, the jury in some cases can award damages for the medical expenses that were incurred prior to the decedent's death as well as compensation for loss of companionship.

Source: Albuquerque Journal, "Lawsuit filed over death of resident", Patrick Lohmann, Feb. 28, 2015

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