The estate of a La Pine, Ore., man who was paralyzed from the chest down has filed a lawsuit seeking $7.5 million in damages from a Bend home health care agency over his death.
The estate of Mitchell Cox filed the lawsuit in Deschutes County Circuit Court in October, claiming At Home Care LLC is liable for his death, according to The Bulletin.
Cox died in 2012 after he fell out of a hospital-style bed and landed with his legs stretched over his head. As a quadriplegic, he was unable to move and died because he could not breathe, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims an At Home Care employee should have known Cox was at risk of falling because he’d help him consume alcohol and medications including the prescription narcotic oxycodone. The home-health aide had already left for the evening.
A toxicology report after his death shows Cox’s blood-alcohol level was .21 and he had oxycodone, an over-the-counter antihistamine and an anti-seizure medication in his system.
Brian Whitehead, the Salem attorney who represents Cox’s estate, said the man’s drinking habits don’t make his caretakers any less responsible.
“I am ready for that argument because where’s the safest place to be drunk? At home, in bed, in a hospital bed with rails,” Whitehead said. “Can you think of a safer place?”
Cox had some use of his hands and arms. The lawsuit says the employee failed to raise and lock Cox’s bedrail into place. The bedrail was part of Cox’s treatment plan.
The employee told investigators that Cox did not like to have the bedrail up and that he believed the man could lower it himself.
At Home Care executive Kevin Cox did not respond to requests for comment.
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