After agreeing to settle a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of Salvatore Niosi, the Woodhaven Care Center is now counter-suing the family over unpaid medical bills.
When most families admit one of their family members to a nursing home, there’s an expectation that that family member will be well taken care of. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. For example, earlier this year the family of wheelchair-bound Salvatore Niosi was awarded $1 million after a nurse at the “Woodhaven Care Center forgot to put in his dentures and fed him a sandwich, leading him to choke to death.” One may think that after being awarded a settlement, the family would be permitted to move on, but in this case, that doesn’t seem to be happening. Instead, the Long Island nursing home is now suing the family over Niosi’s outstanding bill.
The nursing home decided to sue because it claims the family still owes money from Niosi’s stay, “thanks to an alleged clerical error with his Medicaid application.” Michael Regan, the lawyer representing Niosi’s estate, balked at the nursing home’s latest move, though. He said, “my position is that the nursing home shouldn’t financially benefit from killing this guy.”
Prior to his death, Niosi had spent about six years at the facility. His family decided to admit him after he suffered “multiple strokes that left him immobile and unable to speak or even swallow properly,” according to Clifford Argintar, a lawyer representing the family. As a result of the strokes and his inability to swallow foods properly, his medical chart specifically noted he should only eat pureed food.
However, on December 13, 2013, a nurse at the facility failed to read his chart and fed him a sandwich without putting in his dentures. Within three minutes, he choked to death. To make matters worse, the family claimed it was a half-hour before nursing home staff called 911.
Shortly after his death, an autopsy was performed that listed Niosi’s cause of death as choking. The autopsy report even included the following note: “Food material in the airway.”
In 2015, a wrongful death suit was filed against the nursing home by Niosi’s daughter, Silvia Teixiera. During the litigation process, the nursing home “admitted its error on the eve of trial, and a jury was charged only with deciding a monetary verdict for Niosi’s suffering — which they reached last week after a four-day trial in Suffolk County.”
When commenting on the incident, Teixiera said she was saddened when her father died only 10 months before the birth of her daughter and noted it would have been nice for him to meet his grandchild. She added:
“It’s sad that he had to go in that way and that he had to have panic in his face and that I wasn’t there with him.”