Negligence lawsuit filed over resident hypothermia death that followed miscommunication

Source: , Posted On:   29 November 2023

A Washington state-based senior living operator is being sued for negligence after a resident died after wandering into the cold following a miscommunication about his residence involving staff members.

A lawsuit against Vancouver, WA-based Prestige Senior Living alleges that the operator failed “in their responsibilities to keep [Edmund “Andy”] Andrewjeski safe and alive through a series of negligent acts and errors,” according to The Chronicle.

A spokesperson for Prestige called it a “tragic loss” and told McKnight’s Senior Living that it disagreed with characterization of the situation within the lawsuit but is reviewing and strengthening its processes.

“While the circumstances of what happened were incredibly unfortunate and we take them seriously, we disagree with how the lawsuit’s allegations are characterized,” the spokesperson said. “As a resident of an independent living community, Mr. Andrewjeski came and went from his apartment with the independence he desired. We continue to review and strengthen the systems we have in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents above all else, and we remain committed to keeping everyone in our community safe.”

The spokesperson went on to express Prestige’s “deepest condolences” to Andrewjeski’s family.

Andrewjeski, 96, moved into the independent living community at Prestige Senior Living at Colonial Vista in Wenatchee, WA, in 2017 and reportedly was living with Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension and cardiac disease. The location offers independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing, according to its website.

The lawsuit asserts that Andrewjeski was treated at a local hospital for a health problem on Dec. 29, 2022, but when the time came to transport him back to his residence, miscommunication between the hospital and the community led to him being dropped off at a different building on the Prestige campus.

Upon entering the adjacent Colonial Vista Post-Acute and Rehabilitation Center, Andrewjeski allegedly asked for help finding his walker, which he had left by the front door when he went to the hospital, according to the media outlet. An employee at the facility reportedly did not confirm his identity or residence and led him to an elevator that took him up to the third floor of the rehabilitation center. Unable to find his apartment, Andrewjeski reportedly left the building through a side door, which locked behind him.

Andrewjeski allegedly was disoriented and walked 400 feet along a back roadway before collapsing in 28-degree weather. A snowplow driver, mistaking his snow-covered body for a bag of garbage, dragged the man 120 feet into a snowbank early in the morning on Dec. 30, 2022, before realizing that it was a person under the snow, according to the media outlet. An autopsy revealed that Andrewjeski had died from hypothermia before the snowplow driver encountered him. 

The family is suing Prestige for negligence, medical malpractice and abandonment leading to wrongful death. The complaint, filed Nov. 20 in the Superior Court of Chelan County, stated that “Prestige and its employees … breached their duties of care and failed in their responsibilities to keep Mr. Andrewjeski safe and alive through a series of negligent acts and errors.”