BRAMPTON, ON, July 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ - In a case that raises serious concerns about the standard of care of elderly patients, a jury has found Sunrise Senior Living Inc. negligent in the death of a 77-year-old patient.
Evelyn Coulson of Brampton died of strangulation on June 15, 2009, at the nursing home at 4046 Erin Mills Parkway in Mississauga, when her head became trapped between the mattress and a halo ring, a medical device used to help patients get in and out of bed.
"This case is about holding those who played a role in Evelyn Coulson's death accountable," said Michael Smitiuch, of Smitiuch Injury Law PC, the lawyer for the Coulson family. "Families need to know that they can trust the people who are supposed to be caring for their elderly parents or relatives."
In total, the jury awarded damages in the amount of $640,000 after finding that Sunrise Senior Living Inc., as well as the manufacturer and the installer of the halo ring were negligent in Coulson's death.
Although it is rare in Canada, punitive damages were specifically awarded against Sunrise. Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant and are only awarded in specific circumstances including those in which the conduct is highly reprehensible and departs from the ordinary standards of decent behaviour.
The trial heard that Sunrise staff covered Coulson's bruised neck with a towel and did not disclose the way in which she died. It was only when the coroner attended, that the family learned about the horrific manner in which she died.
"The death of Evelyn Coulson was clearly preventable," added Smitiuch. "As elder care becomes a greater issue, the goal is to ensure that what happened to Evelyn Coulson, doesn't happen to anyone else."
The jury reached its verdict after a four-week trial at the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton. Michael Smitiuch and Luke Hamer represented the Coulson family.