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Nursing home cleared in death of woman after fall

A St. Louis County jury found a nursing facility was not liable for the death of an elderly resident who died after breaking her leg in a fall.

June Powers died Sept. 27, 2015, at Delmar Gardens North. The prior June, she had fallen while she was unattended in her room, suffering multiple fractures in her left leg. After the leg was immobilized, she developed pressure sores on her heel and coccyx and developed osteomyelitis. She ultimately died at the facility.

Her daughter, Maureen Fitter, brought a wrongful death claim alleging Powers died as a result of neglect caused by understaffing.

Gregory Minana of Husch Blackwell, an attorney for the nursing home, said the defense argued that the fall had not led directly to the woman’s death, given her advanced age and other health problems.

“We believed and argued to the jury that she just died because she was 90 years old and had been in a decline for a number of years and had a number of co-morbidities,” Minana said.

After five days of trial, the jury returned a complete defense verdict. The case is now on appeal.

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Defense verdict

Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death

Venue: St. Louis County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 18SL-CC02909/Dec. 9, 2022

Judge: William Corrigan

Last Pretrial Demand: $750,000

Last Pretrial Offer: $115,000

Plaintiffs’ Experts: Dr. John Kirby, Camden, New Jersey (internal medicine and geriatrician); Kathleen Hill-O’Neill, Newtown, Pennsylvania (nursing); Valerie Gray, Austin, Texas (damages)

Defendants’ Expert: Kenneth Marx, St. Louis (damages)

Caption: Maureen Fitter v. Delmar Gardens North Operating LLC, Delmar Gardens Management Services Inc. and Delmar Gardens Enterprises Inc.

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Kevin Chaffee and Jonathan Steele, Steele Chaffee, Kansas City

Defendants’ Attorneys: Gregory Minana and Tanya Maerz, Husch Blackwell, St. Louis