Late resident's family sues community where she fell and burned in the sun

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A Florida senior living community is being sued by the adult children of a late resident who allege that her death came after she fell off her scooter in the community's courtyard and was burned by the sun when she wasn't found for several hours.

The attorney filing the wrongful death lawsuit against Harbor Place at Port St. Lucie on Thursday told the Palm Beach Post that the case represents “outrageous neglect,” but the community's executive director disputed that characterization to McKnight's Senior Living.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the estate of Kathleen “Kay” Menard, who was 97 when she died in September, and her son and daughter. It said that Menard had lived at the community for more than nine years when she drove her electric scooter into the courtyard on the morning of July 5. She reportedly fell off the scooter at some point, and the family of another resident found her unconscious about six hours later. Menard later said that she had called out for help before passing out but had not received a response, daughter Maria Gryner told the newspaper.

Menard was taken to a local hospital, where her temperature was recorded as 105.7 degrees, according to the lawsuit. She also reportedly had burns and heat stroke that had led to sepsis. Menard returned to Harbor Place briefly but then was admitted to a skilled nursing facility, the complaint said. She died Sept. 29.

Menard's death certificate lists her cause of death as the fall from the scooter, nutritional deficiency, heat stroke and severe burns on her feet.

Attorney Scott Fischer, representing the family, told the Palm Beach Post that Menard was known to be at risk of falling and that she had fallen at least 14 times while living at Harbor Place.

“She always had a fall risk, and that is why we had her in assisted living,” Gryner said, according to the newspaper and WPBF.

The attorney told the media that Menard “essentially burned to death due to a facility not keeping any tabs on her and allowing her to bake outside in the summer heat for many, many hours.” The case represents “outrageous neglect,” he added.

Harbor Place disputed that description.

The community's executive director, Erika Stewart, said in a statement to McKnight's Senior Living: “At Harbor Place at Port St. Lucie, providing compassionate care to our residents while ensuring they receive the utmost respect, dignity and independence is our highest priority. We take any allegation to the contrary seriously.”

Harbor Place would not discuss specifics of any individual case, the statement said, because it would violate privacy rights.

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