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Spiros Law, P.C. files lawsuit against Champaign nursing home after death of resident

Kington v. Champaign County Nursing Home

Spiros Law, P.C. is representing the family of Sonya Kington, an Alzheimer’s patient at Champaign County Nursing Home, who was left unsupervised and subsequently died of hyperthermia after being left outside.

Spiros Law, P.C. has filed suit against the Champaign County Nursing Home after their negligent conduct resulted in the avoidable death of one of their residents.

On June 6th, 2017, the body of Sonya Kington was found in the outdoor courtyard of the Champaign County Nursing Home. Ms. Kington, who suffered from dementia was a memory-care patient at the nursing home. Security cameras show Kington entering the courtyard at approximately 1:47 pm where she was left unattended in the extreme heat.  An investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health revealed that staff members propped open the doors to the courtyard despite the facility’s policy to the contrary.  These doors were to remain closed and alarmed given the cognitive status of the residents in the memory-care unit. “Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence in nursing homes.  When facilities decide to house residents with memory issues like Alzheimer’s or dementia, the facility has a duty to implement protocols to ensure their safety” said Senior Associate Patricia Gifford. Usually, this means alarming or coding exit doors so that incidents like this do not occur.  These doors typically require a code to open or an alarm sounds when they open. Founding Partner, James Spiros added, “Unfortunately, there are many hazards and safety concerns for these residents and extreme weather conditions, whether hot or cold, is one of these hazards and can be life-threatening to the residents.”

Employees of the nursing home did not realize Ms. Kington was missing for over three hours. By the time they found her at approximately 5:30 pm, she was unresponsive, hot to the touch, and deceased.

After investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident and reviewing the details with a licensed physician, we believe the nursing staff at Champaign County Nursing Home failed in their duty to provide the necessary services and treatments to prevent the death of Ms. Kington in failing to properly secure the facility and in failing to properly supervise Ms. Kington.


Champaign nursing homes under investigation

Authorities are investigating a Champaign nursing home after an 89-year-old resident was found dead outside of the facility this past weekend. The facility, Helia Healthcare, recently paid fines for three separate violations in the last eleven months. The county coroner’s office reported that initial indications reveal that the victim, Annette White, likely died from exposure to the cold. She was last seen indoors during dinnertime and may have made her way outside sometime afterward. She was found at 12:11 a.m. on December 31st and pronounced dead.

Champaign police, the county coroner’s office, and the Illinois Department of Public Health are all involved in the investigation into this resident’s death. The facility has only a single-star rating on Medicare’s five-star scale, and previous violations by the Illinois Department of Public Health reveal that the home was forced to pay for three class “B” violations (a $2,200 penalty for each) as a result of surveys from February of 2016 as well as August and November of 2017.

Unfortunately, this type of occurrence is not isolated. Another local facility, The Champaign County Nursing Home, had a similar incident on June 6th, 2017, when the body of Sonya Kington was found in the outdoor courtyard. Ms. Kington, who suffered from dementia was a memory-care patient at the nursing home. An investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health revealed that staff members propped open the doors to the courtyard allowing Kington to enter the courtyard. When she was found, over three hours later, she was unresponsive, hot to the touch, and deceased.

It is the responsibility of elder care facilities to properly observe their residents and protect them from harm, especially during extreme weather months when exposure to the elements can be deadly. When the actions of the staff and management of a facility are negligent in any way, they may be held liable for a resident’s injuries or death. In the case of the Champaign County Nursing Home, we have filed suit against them due to their negligent conduct which resulted in the avoidable death of Ms. Kington.

Our thoughts are with the families of these victims, and we will keep you updated when more details emerge. To read the recent report in The News-Gazette, click here. To learn more about the legal action taken by Spiros Law, P.C. on behalf of the Kington family, read the news release here.

Champaign man hospitalized after three-car wreck on I-57

A Champaign man was hospitalized following a three-vehicle wreck on Monday evening near Rantoul. The man, a 31-year-old Champaign resident was driving his 2003 Ford Edge when authorities believe he fell asleep at the wheel. His car then veered off the road, struck a guardrail, and came to rest in the left lane of the interstate. Two vehicles subsequently struck the vehicle.

The other two vehicles in the accident, a black SUV driven by an Urbana woman and a semi-trailer driven by a man from Lemont, were damaged, but the drivers were unharmed. Authorities say that all involved were wearing their seatbelts.

The accident is still being investigated, so read more here on our blog or follow the story on the News-Gazette. We will keep you posted as more details are released, and our team is always available if you need assistance following an accident here in Champaign or the surrounding areas. Contact us at (217) 328-2828 today.

Spiros Law’s Miranda Soucie featured in the News-Gazette’s Clergy Corner

Spiros Law’s own Miranda Soucie was featured in a news story on the News-Gazette’s features section titled “Clergy Corner”.  The article discussed the efforts of Miranda and other clergy members of Champaign’s Copper Creek Church in their yearly mission trip to the Republic of Malawi.

A dozen members of the church, including Miranda, spent a part of their summer in Malawi with the Lisanjala CCAP Church, building a new house of worship. In addition, the team helped fund clean water wells and gave twenty-five scholarships to students in the area.

The article quotes Miranda on her experience in Malawi: “We were learning what it truly means to be a stranger and to love a stranger. As I have grown older, I have increasingly seen our definition of stranger be defined by a fear of the unknown. My observation in Malawi, is that a stranger is something to be celebrated. Someone to be welcomed. Someone to be loved.”

The entire team at Spiros Law is proud of the efforts that Attorney Soucie has made on behalf of her community and outside of the Champaign community. To read the entire article, visit the News-Gazette site here.

Illinois Leads the Nation in Nursing Home Abuse Victims

New and terrible information has come to light following the Health and Human Services’ 2017 study of nursing homes across 33 states. According to the analysis, there were 134 cases of neglect or sexual or physical abuse resulting in a hospital emergency room visit in 2015 and 2016. The state with the highest number of these visits was Illinois with 17. About one in four of these injured residents went unreported to the police, a grand total of 38 of the victims. About four out of five of these victims were hospitalized due to rape or sexual abuse.

According to a statute that went into effect over five years ago, nursing home employees should’ve reported such federal crimes as physical and sexual assault to the police within two to 24 hours, depending on the injuries of the victim; the 96 reported cases from the study were unclear about whether the reports were timely. Unfortunately, Medicaid—the service for which the statute exists—has failed to protect these victims due to faulty or weak procedures. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are being faulted for their failure to enforce their statue—they face fines of up to $300,000. The agency has no formal report to give in response to these accusations, pending the official completion of the audit.

Unfortunately, the problem goes even further than reporting abuse to police but includes the careless destruction of evidence. In one reported case, an elderly woman was allegedly sexually assaulted by a fellow resident, and the nursing home staff washed the woman and changed her clothes, preventing an accurate test for rape. What’s more, is they failed to make a call within two hours and waited until the next day to contact the woman’s family, who called the police themselves. In the end, despite being cited for failing to notify a doctor, the family, and local law enforcement, state officials classified the incident as minimally harmful or potentially harmful.

These problems are growing more and more troublesome as time passes and more elderly people begin to seek out nursing home care for their final days. Will nearly 1.4 million people residing in these assisted living situations across the country, such numbers are appalling and infuriating. The attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C. are available to help you or your loved ones if they are facing the negligent actions of a nursing home, resulting in injury. Contact them at (217) 328-2828 for more information.

Spiros Law Attorney Miranda Soucie to Discuss Discovery and Depositions

In a talk hosted by the American Association for Justice, Spiros Law’s own Miranda Soucie will be joining Ken Levinson, Mike Neff, and Dan Chamberlain to co-host Slip & Fall Webinar Series Part III: Discovery & Deposition Tactics. They will all be joined by the Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway, and Premises Liability Section. The talk begins at 2:00 Eastern Time on August 22, so join Soucie and her fellow speakers as they discuss planning a discovery, preparing for 30(b)(6) depositions, and talking with your client about depositions. If you can’t make it to the original discussion, recordings will be available later.

Elderly Woman Found Dead at Champaign County Nursing Home

The Champaign County Nursing Home experienced the loss of 78-year-old Sonya Kington on June 17. She was found outside in the courtyard in the afternoon and the home is under surveillance and investigation by the Illinois State Police. County Administrator Rick Snider expressed condolences to the family and friends of the resident.

The appointed coroner, Duane Northrup, said that there was no immediate sign of trauma or injuries on the elderly woman, but the full autopsy could take anywhere from two to three months.

The attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C. wish to express their sorrow at the loss of a Champaign County resident. Their thoughts are with the family and friends of Kington.

Breaking News: Injuries reported, first-responders on scene of 1-57 crash in Champaign

Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette
Accident on I-57 south about 1/4 mile south of Mattis overpass on Thursday, June 8 , 2017.

Emergency crews are on the scene of an accident that occurred at 4:00 p.m. today on Interstate 57 in Champaign. EMS personnel, firefighters, and state troopers all responded to the accident that is diverting traffic at the Olympian drive exit.

While this story is still developing, authorities report that several people were injured in the crash and some were trapped in their vehicles immediately after the accident. Our thoughts are with the victims of the crash and their families.

To read more about this developing story follow it here at the News-Gazette site.

Spiros attorney Sandra Loeb wins temporary disability appeal on behalf of client in Champaign

This week, partner, Sandra Loeb of Spiros Law helped an injured worker in Champaign recover an additional $13,446.79 in temporary disability benefits in a successful appeal of a worker’s compensation claim. At Spiros Law, our experienced worker’s compensation attorneys believe in helping our clients recover the rightful compensation they deserve even if it means going to trial or filing appeals. We know just how difficult life can be following a workplace injury and we are committed to helping our clients recover from their injuries and move on with their lives.

If you have been injured in a workplace accident and your workers’ compensation claims have been wrongly denied or unfairly limited, contact Sandra and our team of experienced, compassionate attorneys at (217) 328-2828 today.

Mahomet-Seymour student killed in tragic wreck on U.S. 36

A multi-vehicle, chain-reaction accident injured two and killed a Mahomet-Seymour student on Wednesday afternoon. The accident occurred on U.S. 36 east of Tuscola at 4:57 p.m. The victim, junior Jacob Hamilton was the goalkeeper on the varsity soccer team, and was honored in an improptu vigil that night on the school’s soccer field.

Authorities say that a semi-trailer and other vehicles were involved in the chain-reaction crash, when two crashes that were blocking the roadway caused further issues for drivers heading eastbound. It is also believed that high winds may have blown a significant amount of dust into the air, reducing visibility for the drivers involved in the accident. The other two injured individuals were passengers in the vehicle driven by Jacob Hamiliton, and they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries after the collision. All of the individuals were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the victim and the other families of the individuals involved in the accident. Read the full story at The News-Gazette and the update here.