Lawsuit says Michigan group home starved elderly blind and deaf woman to death
BELLEVILLE, Mich. (FOX 2) - The family of a 71-year-old woman said she was starved to death after being completely reliant on them for care. Now the family has filed an attorney and is suing the facility.
Charlene Jones still finds it hard to talk about her aunt, Bertha Jones. The woman died at 71 while in the care of a group home, a place she had been at since 1983.
Bertha, known to her family as BJ, was born with a spinal deformity that left her blind, deaf, and in a wheelchair her entire life.
"Why do they treat her like that? She didn't deserve that," Charlene said. "All they had to do is just take care of her. She wasn't violent. She couldn't back talk. She couldn't give you a hard time. If you fed her, everybody knew, BJ loves to eat."
But that's the problem. Charlene claims the Community Spirit Group in Van Buren Township home didn't feed BJ.
"Literally over the next two and a half month period was starved to death," Charlene said.
According to a newly filed $25 million lawsuit, the sole cause of BJ's death was "protein calorie malnutrition."
An attorney for BJ's estate, Albert Dib, said the group didn't have enough people to care for BJ.
"I think it's because the staff, The home was understaffed, I think that the workers that did show up we're not qualified," Dib said.
FOX 2 has also learned another new disturbing detail: the home has not been licensed over the past ten years and had residents, like BJ, sign a simple contract for care.
"It bothers me only to the point that by relinquishing their licensure, they were no longer obligated be held to the standards of the state of Michigan requires a license group home, so they were on their own. And as we can see, that's a dangerous proposition," Dib said.
We called and went to the Community Spirit Group home to get their side. We could hear them inside but they did not answer the door - but they did call the cops.
Charlene says she's haunted by what happened to her aunt and is urging other people who have loved ones in homes like this to keep a close eye on them and the care they receive.
"Every day it haunts me. There's not a day that goes by when I don't think about my aunt. But I'm here today for justice for my aunt, and just to let other families know, please check up on your loved ones," she said.
The family of Bertha Jones said the woman was in a wheelchair, deaf, and blind and needed constant care and feeding - but they said the nursing home tasked with taking care of her let her starve to death.