Elderly Man Suing County After His Ear Was Injured by Ridgewood Employee

Posted by PKSD Law Firm on May 23, 2008 in Cases Filed

An Article by Janine Anderson as it appeared in The Journal Times on May 23, 2008

MOUNT PLEASANT ? A man who required 19 stitches to close a wound allegedly caused when an aide at Ridgewood Care Center pulled on his ear has sued the county, seeking $50,000 in damages.

Arthur Woiteshek Sr., 87, suffers from dementia and Alzheimers disease. He was injured in March 2007 when Amelia Clay allegedly grabbed and twisted his ear, tearing the skin and cartilage.

Clay, 21, was initially charged with reckless abuse of patients and substantial battery, but those charges have since been dismissed without prejudice, meaning the District Attorneys Office could re-file the charges.

The civil suit was filed by Dawn Deschler, Woitesheks power of attorney, after Racine County officially denied the notice of claim filed last fall.

Attorney Jeffrey Pitman said they are looking to recover $50,000, the maximum amount allowed by law, for Woitesheks medical costs and pain and suffering.

Every resident at the nursing home has the right to receive the services to maintain the highest level of functioning and to be as safe as possible, Pitman said. That certainly didn't happen in this case, since the aide literally almost ripped off a part of his ear as she was, I guess, trying to redirect him.

When the county rejected the claim, they decided to move forward with the civil suit. However, Pitman said they waited to file until after the criminal charges were dismissed.

We wanted to have (the District Attorneys Office) be able to go through its case without our case being filed at the same time, he said. We didn't want to get in the way of that in any way.

Jon Lehman, corporation counsel for Racine County, said the county's denial of the original notice of claim might have been, at least in part, based on the amount asked for.

On a case that comes in like this, where the statutory limit is asked for, theres not a lot we can do, he said. Theres a procedural quandary where you cant, at that stage, in a claim, find out enough information as to whether or not the requested dollar amount is valid. We have to go ahead and deny it so we can get sued, so we can get to meaningful discovery and find out how much a good, viable amount is right to compensate someone.

Ultimately, Lehman said, the denial of a claim allows the court case to proceed, which is sometimes necessary to resolve a situation.

We just have to let (some claims) proceed to suit, and then have a meaningful discussion with somebody about it, he said.

The county has 45 days to respond to the complaint.

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