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Wrongful death suits names Kansas homeowner, health care agency

A fire last spring in Scott City took the lives of three young children and a 28-year-old quadriplegic woman. Two of the children who perished in the blaze -- age 6 and 8 -- were daughters of the woman's boyfriend. The disabled woman's 4-year-old son was also killed in the fire.

The girls' parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit accusing the owners of the Kansas home that burned and a health care company that provided services for the disabled woman of negligence.

The fire apparently started shortly after the victim's boyfriend left the residence for an early morning job. A 911 call recorded the quadriplegic woman's frantic cries. She could save herself or the children left in her care.

According to court papers, a home health care provider should have been at the quadriplegic's residence at the time the fire started. The disabled woman's caregiver was apparently more than one hour late for her regular shift.

The civil action also names the owners of the home where the quadriplegic woman and her boyfriend lived with the children. The couple is accused of negligence for failing to provide smoke detectors.

The home health care provider, Windsor Place At Home LLC, is charged with "failure of protection," an accusation which company officials say is misdirected. The executive director of the health care service acknowledged that the disabled woman was a client, but in a limited capacity.

Windsor Place claims it only handled administrative work, like filing Medicaid benefits for the disabled woman. The fire victim allegedly chose a self-direct care program that allowed her to hire and manage home health assistants without using agency employees.

The wrongful death suit may have to be amended to reflect claims by Windsor Place. If the home care agency was not contracted to provide caregiver scheduling, then the suit might take a personal turn toward the individual health caregiver who did not show up for a work shift.

The pain of losing a loved one is unimaginable. That pain is amplified when his or her death is due to someone else's negligence. Many families are left not knowing what to do next after a family member's death. A personal injury attorney can sit down with surviving family members and discuss possible options, such as wrongful death claims.

Source: eldoradotimes.com, "Lawsuits filed over 4 deaths in Kansas house fire," Aug. 2, 2012

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