(CNN)The widow of a New Jersey man has sued a Pennsylvania senior living facility after her husband suffered a stroke and a heart attack during a three-hour car service ride from the facility back to his home, eventually resulting in his death, according to a complaint filed in federal court on Monday.
A senior assisted living facility put a man in a 3-hour ride home that led to his death, lawsuit says
Eugene Hamill of Toms River was placed in a hired car when he was discharged from Twin Cedars Senior Living in September 2018. The family did not know exactly when Eugene Hamill was going to be discharged, or that he would be discharged by being placed in a hired car, according to Steven McConnell, an attorney representing the man's wife and plaintiff in the lawsuit, Jeanne Hamill.
By the end of the car ride, the complaint says, Hamill had suffered a stroke and heart attack and required emergency services. He died about a year later in September 2019, the complaint says.
According to the lawsuit and a violation report filed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, a DHS licensing supervisor told Twin Cedars facility administrator Tamara Singer that it was unsafe to discharge the patient in a three-hour vehicle transport. Singer, who is named as a defendant in the suit, had contacted DHS to discuss the discharge plan. The violation report says the licensing supervisor "discussed the legal ramifications of abandonment of an older adult by a caregiver."
Singer then consulted with her attorney after speaking to the DHS licensing supervisor and decided to have the patient driven back to New Jersey, the violation report states. The unnamed attorney is listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The suit says that Singer ignored the advice from the supervisor even though Hamill was required to wear a cardiac life vest at the time and was diagnosed with various medical conditions including hypertension and coronary artery disease, the complaint says.
The violation report says, "The resident was a victim of neglect due to the unsafe discharge by the operator" of the facility.
The lawsuit also accuses the facility of discharging Hamill because they could "no longer profit" off of him, stating that the facility "caused Eugene's injuries and death ... through its negligence, carelessness, recklessness ... by prioritizing profits over resident safety."
Twin Cedars Senior Living declined to comment, and CNN was unable to reach Singer. It is currently unclear who the attorneys are for the defendants.
In a written response to the violation report, Singer said she disagreed with the violation, calling the situation "very complex with many different parties involved and their abandonment of this resident."
If faced with such a situation again, Singer wrote that the facility will consult with a resident's physician if there are questions about whether a resident is "medically stable." Singer also wrote the facility would consult the department in future "questionable situations" and follow its advice.
The administration will follow those steps "when a resident is cognitively impaired or clear in the mind and also if or when a resident insists on leaving the facility," she wrote. "The home cannot hold a resident against his/her will, but will always follow the above procedure in the future."
The Department of Human Services in Pennsylvania said that Twin Cedars Senior Living was placed on a provisional license following the incident and that it has since been sold. The facility currently has new ownership and now operates on a full license, the department's press secretary said.
McConnell told CNN that the Hamill family was "hurt and definitely looking for answers."
Loriann Hamill, Eugene Hamill's daughter, said that her loved ones have been devastated since the incident. She did not know Eugene Hamill was being sent home, so she was completely shocked when she arrived at her home to see her father unresponsive in a car. She says her mother, Jeanne Hamill, can barely get out of bed.
"I'm worried about her now," Loriann Hamill said, noting that her mother was too upset to participate in an interview. The couple had been together for 65 years.
Loriann Hamill called the incident an "egregious act that was committed." She added: "My father was put in (a hired car) and dumped."