Lawsuit Filed against Duluth Assisted Living Facility after Resident’s Death

A lawsuit filed against an assisted-living facility in Duluth claims it was negligent and failed to keep a 74-year-old woman with dementia safe, leading to her untimely death.

Dale Gerard disappeared from the Wesley Residence in July of 2013.  Gerard’s body was found ten months  later near the intersection of 19th Avenue West and 2nd Street, trapped underneath a fence. 

The wrongful death suit was filed earlier this week against the Wesley Residence, and it’s management company At Home Living Facilities, Inc. 

The lawsuit, brought on by her son Mark Gerard, is seeking damages in excess of $50,000. 

According to the complaint, the Wesley Residence entered into an agreement with the Gerard family in 2013 saying that Gerard could not safely leave the facility on her own. 

The facility’s solution was for Gerard to purchase a “WanderGuard” electronic bracelet that were to trigger an alarm if Gerard were to leave or enter through an alarmed door of the facility.  

However, an investigation revealed that the “WanderGuard” system was ineffective because it was not linked to all unlocked doors, leading to Gerard leaving the facility on July 20, 2013 unattended. 

The complaint states that the Wesley Residence could have and should have alarmed all of its doors in the facility so that the “WanderGuard” would function regardless of which door Gerard left from, locked it’s facility so Gerard was unable to leave, and increased the number of staff to monitor Gerard’s location and provide redirection as necessary.  

The “WanderGuard” bracelet was still on Gerard’s ankle when her body was found. 

An autopsy conducted by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that there was no evidence of blunt or sharp force trauma to Gerard’s body.   The complaint states Gerard more than likely died from stress caused by exposure to the elements. 

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Health found no evidence of neglect against the Wesley Residence ,saying Gerard could make her decisions and it’s unclear how and why she left against medical and family advice. 

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