Florida Hurricane Nursing Home Deaths Ruled HomicidesHurricane Irma cut a path of destruction through the Caribbean and throughout the southeastern United States in September 2017, making landfall in Florida on September 10. Over six million people in the state lost power, and only about 40% of those had their power restored within two days. Tragically, that loss of power also led to a disastrous loss of lives and, now, a homicide ruling.

The hurricane knocked out the air conditioning at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, a nursing home in Broward County. A report from Governor Scott’s office stated that the nursing home did not report its residents needed to be evacuated, or that they were in any danger. The state advised them to call 911 if that situation arose, but staff failed to do so. Residents were instead moved to hallways, in front of fans or coolers.

By September 13th, eight patients were confirmed dead. In the following weeks, six more people died, for a total of 14 people. These are their names:

  • Carolyn Eatherly
  • Gail Nova
  • Estella Hendricks
  • Bobby Owens
  • Miguel Antonio Franco
  • Cecilia Franco
  • Manuel Mendieta
  • Albertina Vega
  • Betty Hibbard
  • Carlos Canal
  • Martha Murray
  • Constance Alice Thomas
  • Dolores Biamonte
  • Francesca Andrade

Of those 14 deaths, 12 were ruled homicides by the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office. No arrests have yet been made or charges filed, but the investigation is ongoing. The Center is now closed – its license was pulled – and has laid off all its employees. Prior to the homicide ruling, several families had already filed wrongful death lawsuits against the facility, alleging it did not provide their loved ones with proper care.

What is wrongful death?

A wrongful death lawsuit is not a criminal lawsuit, but rather a civil one. This means anyone responsible for taking the life of another can be sued in civil court regardless of any underlying criminal charges. Wrongful death claims typically seek financial compensation for the survivors of the deceased—for loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and loss of support.

Survivors can file wrongful death claims when their loved one’s death was caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another person. The law (Florida Wrongful Death Act: §768.16 -768.26) also states that the deceased, had they lived, would have been able to sue and recover damages from the responsible party. The tragedy at Hollywood Hills was needless and heartbreaking. We sincerely wish for all the families to attain the closure and reparations they deserve.

In any wrongful death situation, the responsible parties must be held accountable. We understand your grief and loss and have great compassion for your situation. Let the experienced attorneys at Yeboah Law Group help. Contact our firm in Fort Lauderdale at 1-800-TELL-SAM or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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