California care home sued over resident’s poisoning death

Sep 29, 2022, 5:50 PM | Updated: 6:21 pm

SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) — The family of a woman who died after she was accidentally served dishwashing liquid as drinking juice at a San Francisco Bay Area care home sued the facility on Thursday.

Trudy Maxwell, 93, was served an alkaline liquid “more toxic than Drano,” Niall McCarthy, an attorney for the family, said in a statement.

“When you place your loved one in a senior facility, you do not expect it to be one of the most dangerous places in the Bay Area,” McCarthy said.

The lawsuit, filed in San Mateo County Superior Court, alleges wrongful death, negligence and elder abuse and neglect.

Maxwell, who had dementia and couldn’t feed herself, was one of three residents who were sent to the hospital on Aug. 28 after drinking the liquid at Atria Park Senior Living Facility in San Mateo, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of San Francisco.

The lawsuit alleges that workers waited more than 30 minutes before calling 911 and that the chemical “essentially melted the lining” of her digestive tract. It names the San Mateo facility and its Delaware-based corporate owners.

Another resident, 93-year-old Peter Schroder, also died and his family also has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence and elder abuse.

In a statement Thursday, Atria said a staff member, in violation of its procedures, “filled a pitcher with liquid dishwashing detergent that has a nearly identical consistency and color to cranberry juice, with the intention of dispensing the liquid into a commercial dishwashing machine.”

“Another staff member picked it up, mistaking it for juice, and served it to three residents,” Atria said.

“Our residents will always be our top priority. We devote significant resources to ensure our staff are thoroughly trained and able to meet our residents’ needs at all times,” Atria said, adding that it was working with authorities to review the incident.

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California care home sued over resident’s poisoning death