Elopement and Arbitration

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reported on another tragic and preventable death of a nursing home resident. The wife and children of Michael Jensen is suing Ravenwood Specialty Care and the home’s owners, Care Initiatives of West Des Moines. The facility allowed Jensen to wander away without supervision. At the time, the facility had documented numerous previous attempts by Jensen to elope from the facility.

His body was discovered days later in a ditch submerged up to his chest in water. He was rushed to a hospital. Intensive care unit admitted him for treatment of sepsis, hypothermia, skeletal or heart-muscle damage, and a breakdown of his skin. He died in ICU 22 days later.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals subsequently fined the home $8,750 for regulatory violations related to resident safety. Because the home didn’t appeal the fine, it was reduced to $5,687.

At Care Initiatives’ request, the court agreed to stay the proceedings while compelling the family to pursue their claims through arbitration rather than litigation. The arbitration agreement states that the Jensens waived his right to a jury trial by signing the agreement. The arbitrator’s decision will be final and unappealable. Arbitration does not allow for any punitive damages.