Nursing Home Found Negligent in Death of Elderly Brampton Woman

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A Mississauga nursing home has been found negligent in connection with the death of a 77-year-old patient from Brampton.

Smitiuch Injury Law recently announced that a jury has found Sunrise Senior Living Inc., a nursing home located on 4046 Erin Mills Parkway, negligent in the death Brampton woman Evelyn Coulson, who died of strangulation on June 15, 2009.

Smitiuch Injury Law says Coulson died when her head became trapped between the mattress and a halo ring, a medical device used to help patients get in and out of bed.

“This case is about holding those who played a role in Evelyn Coulson’s death accountable,” said Michael Smitiuch, of Smitiuch Injury Law PC, the lawyer for the Coulson family. “Families need to know that they can trust the people who are supposed to be caring for their elderly parents or relatives.”

In total, the jury awarded damages in the amount of $640,000 after finding that Sunrise Senior Living, as well as the manufacturer and the installer of the halo ring, were negligent in Coulson’s death.

Smitiuch Law says that although it is rare in Canada, punitive damages were specifically awarded against Sunrise.

The law firm says punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant and are only awarded in specific circumstances "including those in which the conduct is highly reprehensible and departs from the ordinary standards of decent behaviour."

Smitiuch Law says the trial heard that Sunrise staff covered Coulson’s bruised neck with a towel and did not disclose the way in which she died. Her cause of death was determined by a coroner.

“The death of Evelyn Coulson was clearly preventable,” said Smitiuch. “As elder care becomes a greater issue, the goal is to ensure that what happened to Evelyn Coulson, doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The jury reached its verdict after a four-week trial at the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton.

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