The Ottumwa Courier

December 18, 2013

Nursing home death leads to lawsuit

By MATT MILNER
Courier staff writer

---- — KEOSAUQUA — The death of a Keosauqua nursing home patient has led to a federal lawsuit by the woman’s family.

Mary Sprouse died after a fall at the Good Samaritan Society’s facility in Keosauqua. The case was fined by state investigators who found Sprouse fell more than 50 times prior to her death. The facility paid more than $10,000 in fines for that citation and another uncovered in the same report.

Clyde Sprouse, Mary’s husband, and Shelly Ragen, her granddaughter, brought the suit as executors of her estate. They seek compensation for wrongful death and loss of spousal consortium.

The suit, filed in federal court, cites “at least 23 occasions” on which Sprouse fell while unattended. Court documents say Good Samaritan “failed to adequately notify Clyde of Maggie’s falls.”

Three counts make up the suit. The family accuses the facility of being at fault for Sprouse’s injuries, that the facility was in breach of contract for failing to provide “safe, adequate nursing care services” and dependent adult abuse based on the fact Sprouse’s infirmities made her unable to protect herself.

The family has asked the court for a jury trial in the case.

While Good Samaritan admits the fact of Sprouse’s falls in its reply, it rejects the claim it is legally responsible for damages. The facility contends in court papers it “fully discharged any and all duties owed to Plaintiff.”

Good Samaritan’s filing says the Sprouse’s injuries, thus the family’s damages, were the result of unforeseeable events and were not caused by any act by the facility. It seeks dismissal of the case.

While the lawsuit is in federal court, several cases making their way through Iowa courts also have had significant events.

• Kenneth Turner has pleaded not guilty to charges of stalking and also entered a written arraignment in the case. Trial is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2014.

• Ashley Weir’s trial on charges of willful injury and domestic abuse has been pushed back to April 1, 2014.

• Attorneys for Robert Pilcher, accused in the 1974 murder of Mary Jayne Jones, are sparring with prosecutors over his prior arrest records. Most previous arrests and convictions are not allowed as evidence during trial, and Pilcher’s attorneys want evidence of “prior bad acts” excluded from his murder trial.