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Negligence charged in woman's death

Published December 05. 2013 05:00PM

A Carbon County nursing home, its owners and four employees of the home have been named defendants in a civil suit filed over the death of a resident of the home.

The suit filed in Carbon County court names Guardian Elder Care at Weatherly, dba, Weatherwood Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center; Lisa Moyer, a registered nurse; Louise Bekisz, a registered nurse; Katherine Kunkel, CNA; and Dourene Strittmatter, LPN; with the listed address of the nursing home, 1000 Evergreen Ave., Weatherly.

The suit was filed byBruce John Lechleitner, as executor of the estate of Margaret R. Lechleitner, deceased, of 418 W. White St., Summit Hill.

Margaret Lechleitner was a resident of the nursing home on April 20, according to the suit. On that date a fire alarm sounded in the home about 6:35 p.m. with strobe lights flashing.

The suit states the decision was made to evacuate the residents from Area 2 of the home. While the evacuation was being done the fire chief said the residents could return to the home.

Mrs. Lechleitner and another resident, Carl Louis Smith, were placed in a sub-dining room with six other residents.

The alarm continued to sound, creating a highly anxious atmosphere, the suit states, with no staff in the area to protect or supervise the residents. At this time Strittmatter, the suit alleges, observed Smith push Lechleitner causing her to fall and strike her head, but failed to remedy the situation or bring the situation to anyone's attention.

Mrs. Lechleitner was taken to the Hazleton General Hospital where she died six hours after the incident.

Smith was arrested and charged by Weatherly police with involuntary manslaughter and related offenses. His case is pending in the county court.

The suit seeks damages from the defendants alleging negligence. The suit contains a substantial list of allegations of alleged wrongdoing by the defendants.

Sought are damages in excess "of the jurisdictional amounts requiring submission to compulsory arbitration."

Attorney Donald J. Feinberg, of Philadelphia, filed the action on behalf of the plaintiff.

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