A Louisville assisted living center and some of its employees are facing a lawsuit in Boulder County District Court after one of its residents – Mary Jo Staub – froze to death last February. The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by attorneys for Staub’s family, alleges staff at the Balfour Assisted Living Facility in Lavender Farms were negligent and failed to protect the 97-year-old woman.
The lawsuit says surveillance video shows her wandering out of the facility in the middle of the night last winter, locking herself and then asking for help, but no one found her for five hours.
According to the lawsuit, Staub’s family paid an additional $1,500 each month for increased care at Balfour at Lavender Farms. But last February, the suit claims no one observed dust as she wandered outside in the middle of the night in freezing temperatures.
The suit says dust went around the building to the doors closest to the nurses’ station and claims surveillance video showed her climbing a snow hill and, after injuring her ankle, “on her hands and.” Kneel” to the doors “crawled”, “leaves a “trail of blood in the snow”.
Despite tapping on the glass for help, the lawsuit claims for five hours, “No one at Lavender Farms was monitoring the security cameras that night…not a single Balfour employee noticed that dust was locked out of the facility…not a single A Balfour Staff member was present to assist Mary Jo in any way.”
The Staub family attorney, Elizabeth Hart, declined to be interviewed, but issued the following written statement:
“Hailey | Hart is honored to represent the Staub family. Mary Jo was deeply loved. Her life was tragically ended in a way that could happen to any other member of this vulnerable population.”
Louisville police were not pursuing criminal charges, but the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment inspected the facility after the incident and issued eight subpoenas against the facility.
The state health department tells CBS News Colorado that it determined an imminent danger to residents following that inspection, but the facility has made appropriate changes to address those concerns.
Elaine McManis, Division Manager for the Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services Division at the CDPHE, issued the following written statement regarding the incident:
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic event that should never have happened. Once notified, we dispatched experts to the facility to investigate the incident and ensure the safety of other residents. Where we found deficiencies, we urged the facility to make changes quickly and monitor the facility closely until all corrective actions are complete.”
CBS News Colorado reached out to the facility for comment but has not yet received a response.
Colorado AG is prosecuting another case of assisted living neglect
In another incident in Mesa County, two assisted living caregivers have pleaded guilty and a worker will face court later this month after 86-year-old Hazel Place was left outside for six hours in the summer heat.
WhenPlace’s son, Steve Place, said, “It’s disgusting … it’s completely wrong … there’s just absolutely no excuse.”
According to the Colorado Attorney General, one of the workers who pleaded guilty was sentenced to three years probation and 30 days in prison.