Thursday, January 20, 2022

Daughter seeks $1.5 million in wrongful death lawsuit against Colonial Manor, doctor

Colonial Manor (Courtesy Google Maps)
Colonial Manor (Courtesy Google Maps)

The daughter of a woman who died in 2012 after a fall at a Williamsburg assisted living center is seeking a $1.5 million settlement in a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit.

Thelma Barbour is suing Norfolk physician Paul Augustine, Colonial Manor Senior Living and Augustine’s employer, the Visiting Physicians Association, alleging they did not provide adequate care to her mother after she suffered a head injury from a fall, according to documents filed in the Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court.

The case is set for a three-day jury trial in circuit court starting May 1, court records show.

Barbour is seeking a settlement of $1.5 million; nearly $14,000 in funeral home, memorial expenses and home care costs; and any incurred court costs, court documents state.

Barbour’s mother, Alice Allen, was alone in her room at Colonial Manor on Aug. 12, 2012 when she fell from her wheelchair, hitting her head on the floor, documents state.

An employee of Colonial Manor testified in court in 2014 that she heard distressed sounds from Allen’s room and found her on the floor with her head bleeding and wheelchair on top of her.

Documents with testimony state a staff member placed a band aid on Allen’s head and did not take her to the hospital until the next day, Aug. 13.

Allen died August 23 after suffering complications from a subdural hematoma, documents state. Online obituaries say she was 87 years old.

Barbour filed the wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit in July 2014, according to court records. In February 2016, the case was nonsuited, which means a plaintiff agrees not to continue with the case, but maintains the right to bring the case back at any time. Barbour refiled the lawsuit two months later.

“Ms. Allen is survived by her sole beneficiary, Thelma Barbour, who is the sole remaining statutory beneficiary and has suffered sorrow and mental anguish and sustained a loss of her mother’s society, companionship and comfort as well as her guidance, kindly offices and advice,” documents state.

Colonial Manor stated in documents that Barbour did not approve or authorize her mother to be sent to the emergency room the day of the fall and needed to be convinced to send her the following day.

Colonial Manor also described Barbour as “defiant and difficult” and said Barbour refused recommended and “potentially life-saving” medical treatment and signed Do Not Intubate and Do Not Resuscitate orders for her mother.

Barbour says Colonial Manor did not take adequate fall prevention precautions, did not send her mother to the emergency room in a timely manner and did not notify her of the incident soon enough.

Documents state Allen had fallen “almost a dozen times” at Colonial Manor.

Barbour also believes Augustine and, by association, his employer, failed to properly monitor Allen’s condition and check and adjust her medications as needed, documents state.

The case complaint says Allen’s blood clotting ability was reduced when she arrived at the hospital the day after she fell.

“As a direct result of Defendants’ negligence as aforementioned, Ms. Allen lost her opportunity for treatment and a substantial possibility of survival,” documents state.

In Dec. 2016, the attorney previously representing Colonial Manor, Beth McMahon, withdrew as counsel, citing the company’s financial struggles.

“Nosa Futura [Colonial Manor’s parent company] is unable to pay the incurred and anticipated legal fees associated with defending this action, and it will be pursuing relief in bankruptcy court,” documents say.

A federal court database did not show any record of the company filing for bankruptcy when reviewed Friday. 

Attorneys for Augustine and the Visiting Physicians Association did not immediately return phone call and email requests for comment Friday.

Pedro Becerra, the owner and director of Colonial Manor, will represent the senior living center in court, court documents state. A phone message left for him at Colonial Manor was not immediately returned Friday.

Fearing may be reached at sarah.f@localvoicemedia.com.

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Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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