An Arkansas senior living provider will pay $2 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit after a resident with dementia wandered away from the community and later was found dead.
The Brookfield at Highland Crossing and Brookfield Assisted Living LLC were sued by the estate of Barbara Doyle, 74, after she went missing in August 2021. According to media reports, Doyle’s husband moved her into the community for three days to attend a family gathering. Doyle wandered away within three hours of moving in and was found 13 days later. Her death was listed as environmental heat distress.
“Our thoughts are with the Doyle family during this difficult time, and we hope that this settlement may help to bring them some peace and closure,” a Brookfield spokesperson told McKnight’s Senior Living.
The lawsuit against the community and its parent company claimed negligence by failing to implement measures to prevent Doyle from wandering off, failing to provide adequate policies and procedures to address Doyle’s care needs, failure to supervise employees, failure to comply with and follow state regulations, and failure to provide a safe environment.
Doyle’s exit from the community triggered an alarm that was heard by an employee, who also saw Doyle leave, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. That employee did not confirm that Doyle was a resident or notify fellow staff, and then locked the door. According to the complaint, the Arkansas Department of Human Services division of provider services and quality assurance investigated and found that the community was out of compliance in 21 ways.
The settlement was approved last week in Benton County Circuit Court. Brookfield did not admit or acknowledge any fault or negligence in Doyle’s death as part of the settlement, and the company also denies any negligence, according to the news outlet.