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Lawsuit Filed Against Cedarbrook Nursing Home After Resident Died from a Fall

— July 11, 2019

Cedarbrook nursing home recently came under fire over allegations that a resident fell and died because it was understaffed.

A federal lawsuit was filed recently over allegations that a 77-year-old woman, Shirley Leibenguth, died from injuries she sustained when she fell at Cedarbrook nursing home back on July 5, 2017, because the nursing home was understaffed. According to the lawsuit, Leibenguth fell when a “certified nurse assistant was trying to move her without assistance.” As a result, Leibenguth suffered an injury to her face and two broken legs. Nearly 10 hours later, “she died at St. Luke’s University Hospital after suffering cardiac arrest and being resuscitated numerous times.” According to the Lehigh County coroner’s office, the death was caused by “complications of injuries suffered in the fall.”

Old Lehigh County Courthouse
Old Lehigh County Courthouse; image courtesy of Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons,

The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Allentown, argues that the woman’s fall was the result of the “nurse assistant’s lack of training and Cedarbrook’s failure to provide sufficient staff to move Leibenguth, who was totally dependent on assistance for all activities.” Additionally, the suit notes the “Medicare reports that include the number of patients and the hours of clinical care provided at Cedarbrook show the county and management consultants failed to provide adequate staff to meet the needs of the nursing home’s residents.”

In fact, between 2015 and 2017, Cedarbrook understaffed it’s registered nurses by a whopping 30% and its “certified nurse assistants between 14% and 22%” so it could save between $2.5 million and $3 million each year, the suit argues.

When commenting on the matter, Dan Purtell, an attorney in Philadelphia, said, “Unfortunately, these issues happen all too frequently. Staffing is a pervasive issue in nursing homes.”

Purtell also added that it’s difficult to know what transpired before the fall because the nursing home has yet to provide a “complete copy of her medical records.” He said, “Whatever happened, she was caused to drop, which should not happen. We don’t have all the details at our disposal. We just know what happened shouldn’t have happened.” The suit also notes that, prior to her fall, Leibenguth was completely dependent on “nursing staff for standing up or sitting down, or moving from a chair to her bed.” She even needed help moving around in bed. The fall itself occurred when a nurse assistant was “either trying to change Leibenguth’s clothes or bedding or to transfer her from the bed to a wheelchair,” according to the suit.

The suit itself was filed against Lehigh County and two consulting groups affiliated with the nursing home, LW Consulting and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network. It was filed by Leibenguth’s brother, Charles Beck, who happens to be the executor of Leibenguth’s estate. In total, Beck is seeking more than $75,000 in damages and argues his sister’s civil rights were violated because the nursing home failed to comply with state and federal nursing home regulations.


Staff shortage caused fatal fall at Cedarbrook, lawsuit claims

Understaffing caused woman’s fall, death at Cedarbrook Nursing Home, lawsuit claims

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