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Family sues nursing home for $10M after senior with dementia was found dead

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The family of a Korean senior who went missing and was discovered dead a day after moving into a high-end assisted living facility has sued the state and the facility.

The family is seeking over $10 million in compensation, alleging that the nursing home’s lack of oversight led to her death.

John Hyun and others filed the lawsuit on April 17, alleging that the negligence of Mt. Hood Senior Living Facility, a nursing home near Portland, caused the death of Ki Soon Hyun, 83, according to a court filing in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The family named as defendants not only the senior living facility, but also the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Avant Senior Housing Managers and Consultants LLC, which managed and operated the facility and trained the staff, and the consultancy firm’s owner, Tammy Lynn Thwaite.

From left: picture of Ki Soon Hyun and exterior picture of Mt. Hood Senior Living home in Sandy, Oregon. [Screen capture from Senior Living Home Facebook]

The incident occurred on December 23, 2023. According to the complaint, Hyun, who suffered from dementia, moved into the Mt. Hood Senior Living Facility that day.

The family checked on Hyun on December 23 but claims she was missing less than 24 hours later. They also allege that they were only notified she had wandered off after being contacted by local police. Later, she was found dead from hypothermia in a nearby neighborhood.

According to the complaint, Hyun was found in the woods just about half a mile (approximately 800 yards) from the nursing home. It was Christmas Day when she was found.

The complaint states that the nursing home failed to secure building exits, install and utilize electronic monitoring systems, and immediately notify police of Hyun’s disappearance.

The family chose Mt. Hood Senior Living Facility because it allegedly had high-tech security and a ‘system in place that no one who lives there as a patient can exit the building.’ The family said in their complaint that the staff reassured them “time and time again” that patients would be safe and secure, adding that they “cannot believe how this can happen.”

The family held both the state and the management company accountable. They stated that the state was aware the facility was understaffed and that the staff lacked proper training, as alleged in their lawsuit. They also argued that the responsible parties should have taken prompt measures to close the facility or stop it from admitting new residents.

The facility’s management system continues to raise questions. In a related story, local newspaper OPB referenced a report from the Oregon Long-Term Care Ombudsman (OLTCO), a facility inspection agency, indicating that “there were numerous ‘red flags’ the state missed preceding Hyun’s death.”

“It is clear that Mt. Hood Senior Living failed to protect and care for Ki Soon Hyun and other residents,” the report reads.

The report says that even after Hyun’s death, the home failed to properly lock the entrance, staff had not received required training, and some seniors were left sitting in chairs for more than eight hours without food or water.

The nursing home is known as an expensive care facility, charging $7,000 to $9,000 per senior per month.

“Nothing can bring her back, and nothing can change what we’re going through,” said John Hyun. “We’re suffering every day, but we want something good to come out of this for the betterment of the community and all Oregonians.”

In response to the case, a spokesperson for ODHS told a local news outlet, “We feel deeply for families and their communities anytime there is a loss of life.”

BY YEOL JANG, JUNHAN PARK    [jang.yeol@koreadaily.com]