Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed After Man Freezes to Death in Unlicensed Nursing Home



Austin Personal Injury Lawyers

Austin Personal Injury Lawyers - Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 15, 2015 – A nursing home in Brooklyn was kept so cold that one of its residents froze to death inside his apartment. Seven years later, the nursing home’s conditions have not improved.

Wrongful death lawsuits are filed for various reasons, often with the plaintiff wishing to send the defendant a clear message that they must stop their behavior. This case was highly unusual and involved well-known former judge John Phillips freezing to death at his senior’s residence seven years ago. What is particularly disturbing is that nothing has been done since his death to improve conditions in the nursing home.

The 83-year-old deceased civil court judge, often referred to as “the kung-fu judge” in reference to his black belt, met his demise in his residential apartment at New York’s unlicensed Prospect Park Residence. It is a misdemeanor to run an assisted living facility without a license.

The judge had been declared incompetent, due to dementia, and involuntarily committed to care in 2001 — a move that many considered to be politically motivated, as he had attempted to unseat a local District Attorney in 2001, a man who was allegedly his rival.

For reasons that have remained unclear, the facility staff confined Phillips, would not provide a required diabetic diet or allow a doctor, his attorneys, visitors or family to see him. He remained in an unheated room during the winter. He froze to death — something that was no surprise to remaining facility residents who often, to this day, stay in their rooms to eat, as the dining room, activities and common rooms are frigid.

“This case never made it to trial, as the nursing home settled out-of-court for $750,000. That may have been a wise strategic move on the part of the nursing home facility, as a jury may have awarded the family far more than what they settled for,” said Austin wrongful death attorney, Brooks Schuelke, a partner at Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC.

This wrongful death lawsuit is more about sending several messages rather than obtaining compensation for the death of Judge Phillips. Those messages are: nursing homes need to be licensed, live up to all mandated regulatory requirements, be inspected and cited, have rigorous follow-up, and residents must be treated with dignity and respect and allowed access to medical care.

“Someone needs to do something to address nursing home abuse in the United States. There are at least six more wrongful death lawsuits being filed against Prospect Park Residence in New York. Whether or not those lawsuits resolve the situation is questionable. If you have lost a relative in care due to nursing home neglect or abuse, you can talk to me about your rights should you choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit,” said Schuelke.

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