Family settles suit against nursing homes

2010-02-28T23:30:00Z Family settles suit against nursing homesBy TRISTAN SCOTT Missoulian The Billings Gazette
February 28, 2010 11:30 pm  • 

MISSOULA — After nearly a full week of trial, a Missoula family and two nursing homes settled a wrongful death case out of court this week, coming to terms that were “agreeable to all parties,” according to a statement from attorneys in the case.

All matters against the nursing homes have been dismissed, though neither party can disclose the settlement amount because those terms are confidential.

Paul Teagle, a spokesman for both Riverside Health Care Center and the Village Health Care Center, the two nursing homes involved in the lawsuit, said in a statement that he was pleased with the settlement agreement.

“We are pleased we could reach an agreement with the Seewald family and appreciate the overwhelming support received from our staff, residents and their families,” Teagle said. “We place our residents at the center of everything we do, and are sympathetic to the family for their loss of a loved one.”

Family members of the late Ralph Seewald alleged that the nursing homes acted negligently when they failed to provide adequate health care for the 87-year-old man, who died in November 2005 of a blood infection. Seewald fell and fractured his neck during a transfer from his wheelchair, an accident that left him bedridden; he then developed severe pressure ulcers that worsened over a period of months, and led to a fatal case of gangrene in his leg.

Both the wheelchair transfer and the treatment of his bedsores were inadequate, the lawsuit alleged, and fell outside the standard of care promised to the family.

Following the settlement, Roger Seewald, the personal representative of his father’s estate, expressed satisfaction with the agreement. Seewald also expressed his appreciation for all the support his family received throughout this process.

The lawsuit, filed in Missoula District Court, named as defendants: Riverside Health Care Center; Village Health Care Center; the Goodman Group, which is the parent company that operates both Missoula nursing homes; and Dr. Raymond Howard, the physician assigned to oversee Seewald’s care.

The Seewald family sought relief for negligence, medical malpractice, wrongful death, deceit, breach of contract, fraud and others. Through the lawsuit, the family sought compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, severe emotional distress, grief, sorrow, medical and funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and other damages caused by the defendants’ alleged negligence. The family also sought punitive damages.

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