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Mediation Saves You Money

By Heather Brown
October 16, 2014

Coincidently, I was out wandering aimlessly (as I often do) on the trails in the mountains in my snowshoes through the snow. I often let my mind drift when meandering the path to find the ultimate view and sometimes do forget where I am. This made me think of people who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s and often take course to wander. I thought to myself, what are they thinking about, is it like me when I am on the trail and letting my mind drift and suddenly you are where you are? We all experience times like these, perhaps when driving a long distance and suddenly you look at a sign and perhaps say to yourself “How did I get here?” This brings me to our topic for the week…

A resident had severe Alzheimer’s, a short attention span, wandered and needed to be redirected constantly. One evening in January 2007 the resident eloped from the facility, wandered a short distance away to the highway, and within 20 minutes was struck by a vehicle and killed.

The liability is certain. The facility was cited for failing to maintain a secure interior and exterior environment, and for failing to prevent the resident from wandering from the facility. It was determined that the interior security magnetic locks for all exits were non-functional. The facility’s exterior yard had a 6 foot fence around the back yard that included a gate able to be opened by pulling a string. Fortunately both parties agreed to arbitration. Each selected an arbitrator and then the 2 arbitrators agreed on a third arbitrator. This moved the process to a quicker close, saved both parties a lot of time, aggravation, worry and money. Settlements and verdicts in other jurisdictions range from $0 to $2,200,000.00. Plaintiffs initially made a $1,000,000.00 demand, later reducing the demand to $800,000.00. Through the agreed upon Arbitration process, the case and the claim was settled for $250,000 with defense expenses of $63,700, considerably less than if this would have gone to court.

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