In MN, elder abuse lawsuits die with the victim

Advocates say a legal loophole keeps families from seeking justice in the courts and shields elder care facilities from responsibility for abuse.


Author: Lauren Leamanczyk, Steven Eckert

Published: 11:43 PM CST February 23, 2018


The power of stories!

Families share stories of elder neglect with Minnesota lawmakers

By: Tim Blotz    

POSTED: FEB 21 2018 05:09PM CST


UPDATED: FEB 21 2018 05:48PM CST

(KMSP) - After months of the state trying to clear the backlog of elder abuse complaints, families shared their stories with lawmakers on Wednesday.

Senator Karin Housely is the chair on the Committee on Aging and Long-term Care. Her bill will likely drop at the end of the week, but before it does, senators heard heartfelt pleas from families to take action.

One by one, they shared heartbreak and shed tears.


Worse than ‘doggy daycare?’ Minnesota families share shocking stories of elder abuse


By CHRISTOPHER MAGAN | | Pioneer Press

PUBLISHED: February 21, 2018 at 3:32 pm | UPDATED: February 21, 2018 at 7:58 pm

Amid public outcry, Minnesota senior living complex Autumn Glen reverses huge hike in rents

By Chris Serres Star Tribune FEBRUARY 14, 2018 — 11:01PM

"I think they thought we were old and frail and unable to speak up. But we were very determined to shake people up about this — and we did," said 85-year-old Janet Dahlquist. 

Angry residents at Autumn Glen Senior Living in Coon Rapids pushed back against steep rent increases of 15 to 30 percent, which had threatened to uproot them from their apartments.


After an outcry from elderly residents and state lawmakers, a large senior living complex in Coon Rapids has reversed plans to impose double-digit rent increases that could have uprooted dozens of longtime neighbors and splintered the community.

In a letter sent Tuesday, the operator of Autumn Glen Senior Living apologized for not communicating directly with residents about rent hikes of 15 to 30 percent that took effect in January. The operator said it would instead limit the rent increase to 4 percent and promised to provide a clear explanation for any future rent increases of 5 percent or more. “We hope these adjustments will make your apartment feel like home again as we work together in supporting your future needs here,” wrote Dan Dixon, president and chief executive of Guardian Angels Senior Services of Elk River, a nonprofit organization that manages the facility for a group of private investors.


Full Story at:

Minnesota senior community pushes back against 'astronomical' rent hikes

Lightly regulated facilities offer residents few protections. 

By Chris Serres Star Tribune FEBRUARY 11, 2018 — 7:50AM



Janet Dahlquist expected to spend the rest of her life at Autumn Glen in Coon Rapids but is moving out after a steep rent hike.



The seniors who live at Autumn Glen apartments in Coon Rapids gather for Bible study each morning and bring flowers and pastries to residents too frail to attend.

But this placid scene turned angry last month, after the facility’s owner announced steep rent increases that are uprooting residents and rending longtime friendships.

Dozens of elderly residents, including many with disabilities and serious ailments, received notice late last year that their rent would increase by $300 to $500 a month, or 15 to 30 percent. Suddenly, apartments that many had called home were beyond their reach. Some moved out immediately. Others are busy packing for an exodus this spring.


The complete story:

Orono senior home cited in death of woman who fell and wasn't found for 10 hours, later died

Resident died a few weeks after being left on the floor of her room for 10 hours. 

By Chris Serres Star Tribune JANUARY 27, 2018 — 4:04PM


An Orono senior home has been cited for neglect after a resident fell and was left on the floor of her room for nearly 10 hours, and later died.


A state Health Department investigation found that several employees at the Trails of Orono, an assisted-living facility, failed to respond to an activated bed alarm, and also failed to make regular checks on the resident on the night of her fall in August of last year.

The woman's health deteriorated after the fall and she died 26 days later, according to a state investigation report released Thursday.

For full story go to:

State death report: Neglect led to Roseville nursing home resident's suffocation

The woman became trapped between her mattress and a grab bar. Home operators are appealing the finding. 

By Paul Walsh Star Tribune JANUARY 16, 2018 — 10:08PM


Nursing home operators in Roseville are being blamed for the death of a resident whose head became trapped between the mattress and the bed’s grab bar.

U.S. easing of nursing home penalties could imperil Minnesota's crackdown on elder abuse

New directives call for rolling back federal penalties on nursing homes violating health and safety rules. 

By Chris Serres Star Tribune JANUARY 7, 2018 — 7:57AM


The Trump administration is taking steps to roll back federal penalties on nursing homes violating health and safety rules, a policy shift that’s alarming state officials and advocates for the elderly who say it could undercut Minnesota’s emerging moves to crack down on violence and criminal abuse in senior homes.



Charges: Caretaker took nearly $100K from St. Paul senior

Barbara Joan Siercks, 68, of Paisley, Florida, is charged in Ramsey County with two counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.


Author: KARE

Published: 6:55 PM CST January 3, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Florida woman faces felony charges after investigators say she stole nearly $100,000 from an elderly St. Paul woman. Barbara Joan Siercks, 68, of Paisley, Florida, is charged in Ramsey County with two counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.The criminal complaint states that between Sept. 2014 and March 2015, Siercks, a caretaker, took $97,150 from a 96-year-old woman.




Trump administration caves to nursing home trade group

Move to weaken regulation comes after Star Tribune series on elder abuse. 

By Editorial Board Star Tribune DECEMBER 29, 2017 — 6:03PM


The shocking assaults on Minnesota nursing home and assisted-living residents documented in the Star Tribune’s recent “Left to Suffer” series inspired outrage across the state and vows from Gov. Mark Dayton and legislators to do better — much better.


To their credit, Minnesota legislators are calling for reforms and stronger oversight when they return to St. Paul in early February. But as they’re weighing these improvements, federal regulators are frustratingly taking steps in the opposite direction — a situation that should alarm anyone with aging family members or friends.


The Trump administration’s latest move to go easier on the nursing home industry as part of its regulatory rollbacks was detailed in a Dec. 24 New York Times story by Jordan Rau, a respected health care reporter. Unfortunately, it didn’t get the attention that it should have because its publication came in the midst of last-minute preparations for the holiday.

New acting Minnesota health chief pledges tough action on elder abuse investigations

Days into new job, Dan Pollock pledges major reforms to Department of Health's policing of elder abuse. 

By Chris Serres Star Tribune DECEMBER 21, 2017 — 9:56PM


Minnesota Health commissioner resigns in wake of agency's mishandling of elder abuse allegations

Move comes amid controversy over agency's handling of elder abuse cases. 

By Chris Serres Star Tribune DECEMBER 19, 2017 — 9:06PM


State employees say elder-abuse reports tossed in trash due to backlog of cases

Chronic chaos, dysfunction recounted at state office investigating elder abuse. 

By Chris Serres Star Tribune DECEMBER 17, 2017 — 7:50AM


Star Tribune November 12 - 16, 2017

5 Part Series 'Left to Suffer'


Story by Chris Serres•Photos by David Joles•Star Tribune•NOVEMBER 12, 2017


For weeks before her death, Jean Krause lay in her bed at a northern Minnesota senior home, staring mutely at the walls.


Even when her children arrived with flowers or her favorite dessert, she did not respond. Or she would suddenly sit bolt upright, asking if her door and windows were shut.


This summer, nearly a year after Krause died, the family finally solved the mystery of her strange behavior. Late one night in May 2016, Krause, who was 78 and suffered from dementia, was sexually assaulted in her bed by a male nurse’s aide who appeared to be changing her underwear.

Full story at:



Story by Chris Serres•Photos by David Joles•Star Tribune•NOVEMBER 13, 2017


Clayton Braaten entered the rectory of St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Bemidji reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

He had come seeking help from a priest, hoping to control the rage that has boiled inside him since his late wife, Grayce, was molested three years ago by another resident at an assisted-living facility. The cleric urged him to forgive and not let the tragedy consume his life.

Full story at:



Story by Chris Serres•Photos by David Joles•Star Tribune•NOVEMBER 14, 2017


Minnesota is failing to investigate thousands of cases every year of what is now the most widespread form of physical abuse in senior care homes: resident-on-resident violence.

The state Department of Health has received more than 20,000 complaints in the past five years alleging aggressive behavior by residents, including head-butting, punching, shoving and sexual groping. Most of them were never investigated by the agency charged with protecting vulnerable seniors in licensed care facilities, state records show.

Last year alone, more than 4,000 complaints of resident-on-resident abuse went uninvestigated by the Health Department.

Full story at:



Story by Chris Serres•Photos by David Joles•Star Tribune•NOVEMBER 15, 2017

Estelle Schaust thought she was being helpful. On the veranda of her senior home in Champlin, she scooped up a large ashtray full of cigarette butts, placed them in a plastic bag, then knotted it around the doorknob of the manager’s office. She then taped the facility’s “No Smoking” policy to the bag.

Schaust, who is 84, suffers from a pulmonary condition so severe that a doctor ordered her to avoid smoke.

The next day, she said, she and her husband, Mathias, were summoned to the manager’s office and given a scolding. When the couple pointed out that the facility’s rules ban smoking, the administrator threatened to evict them for “misbehaving” and “stirring up trouble,” the couple told the Star Tribune.

Full story at:



Story by Chris Serres•Photos by David Joles•Star Tribune•NOVEMBER 16, 2017



The photographs showed an elderly woman with blood streaming down her face and bruises where she had been beaten with a baseball bat. Paul Greenwood stared at them, transfixed, as he stood outside the courtroom.

“This was a cold, calculated act of brutality,” the deputy district attorney said. “Once the judge sees these photos, he’ll understand why we’re absolutely not accepting any deals.”

In many states, a violent assault like this one would vanish in a bureaucratic haze. In Minnesota, thousands of allegations of abuse in senior care homes, including beatings and sexual assaults, go uninvestigated each year, records show.

Full story at:



2016 and Early 2017 Headlines of Wrongful Death and Abuse Reported In Senior Living Facilities Throughout Minnesota


The following are some of the state wide media and professional publication coverage on reported abuse. Most cases don’t get in the papers because they go unreported or not investigated by the Department of Health. These google search results reflect the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in the thousands of gross maltreatment in senior living, home care and long-term care facilities through out the State of Minnesota. Please note that there are likely many other media reported abuses that this google search has missed.


2017 Media Reports of Abuse - July - January


Health Department: Roseville Facility Neglected Resident in Apparent Suffocation Death

October 18, 2017 06:09 PM

A Roseville assisted living facility neglected a resident who died after becoming wedged between a bed and a physical therapy pole, a state Department of Health investigation has determined.


Minnesota caregiver pleads guilty to sexually assaulting woman with Alzheimer's

Facility still faces allegations that it hid incident from family members.


JULY 27, 2017 — David E. DeLong, 60, of Pine River, leaves the Crow Wing County District Court after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 78-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease.


Inappropriate Social Media Posts by Nursing Home Workers,

Detailed ...


Jun 23, 2017 - Related story: Nursing Home Workers Share Explicit Photos of Residents on Snapchat .... State: MN .... The facility did not report the abuse in a timely manner because the administrator told inspectors "there was no concrete ...


One woman's fight to expose quality-of-care investigations in Minnesota


JUNE 11, 2017 — From her home in Plymouth, Sheila Van Pelt types on a laptop with two scraps of paper taped below the keypad. One says, “Who are the heavy hitters?” The other: “What public purpose does it serve?”


Morrison County Record | Vulnerable adult abuse reports on the rise ...


Jun 4, 2017 - Minnesota statute defines physical abuse as the “use of physical force ... It was discovered after the elderly care facility the vulnerable adult was ...


MDH: Client Died Because Brooklyn Park Facility Administered Wrong Medication


May 31, 2017 - A Brooklyn Park assisted living facility allegedly neglected a patient who was given another’s medication and died 16 days later, according to a Minnesota Department of Health investigation.

Ride from hell, why answers are hard to find


By: Jeff Baillon

POSTED: MAY 02 2017 06:19PM CDT


UPDATED: MAY 03 2017 11:28AM CDT

(KMSP) - Mary Wittman was just a few months shy of 100 years old and despite the onset of dementia, she still showed a sparkle of wit at the sight of the logo on her daughter’s iPhone, while her daughter took some video of her. "Somebody took a bite out of the apple though," Mary joked. 

That was before that awful day.

Nursing home negligent in death of resident who fell into hot laundry water, state rules

April 28, 2017

A Minnesota nursing home has been found negligent in the death of a resident who entered the facility's laundry room and fell into a basin of 155-degree laundry wastewater, according to a report released Wednesday.

CNN investigation: Sexual assaults in nursing homes a 'widespread ... › News


Feb 23, 2017 - Sexual assaults of nursing home residents by facility employees are ... cases of sexual abuse have been reported in facilities housing the elderly,” the ... a former aide at a Minnesota nursing home who was sentenced to eight ...


Neglect led to 2 deaths a few months apart at Waconia nursing home ...


Jan 4, 2017 - The findings released by the Minnesota Health Department ... the Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Waconia, in one death and the …


Thousands Of Elder Abuse Reports In Minnesota ... - WCCO - CBS Local


Apr 25, 2017 - MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO has learned that thousands of allegations of elderly abuse and neglect at Minnesota nursing homes are ...

‘This Is Serious Neglect’: Woman Installs Secret Camera In Father’s Nursing Home

By Jennifer Mayerle


April 5, 2017 10:42 PM - MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities woman is accusing the nursing home that’s caring for her dad, a World War II veteran, of depriving him of basic necessities.

Wendy Rudek became so concerned a few weeks ago, she installed a camera in her father’s room at a senior living center in Forest Lake. What she saw disturbed her. Rudek, who is a nurse herself, calls it neglect.


Thousands of reports of nursing home abuse in Minnesota are not ...


Feb 27, 2017 - Minnesota Health Department officials have received such a massive influx of complaints about nursing homes in the state in recent years that ...


Sick, dying and raped in America's nursing homes -

In other instances, nursing home employees and administrators are hamstrung in .... The Minnesota Department of Health told CNN it is barred by state law from ... She requested all reports of sexual abuse from the facility where Kpingbah ...


Minnesota health regulators can't keep up with abuse reports

Flooded hot line has families of vulnerable adults waiting months for investigations. 

By Chris Serres Star Tribune


FEBRUARY 18, 2017 - Nearly two years after launching a statewide abuse reporting hot line, Minnesota regulators are overwhelmed by a deluge of new reports alleging abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults in nursing homes, hospitals and other state-licensed facilities.


Thousands of MN nursing home complaints go uninvestigated


Feb 17, 2017 - The numbers of nursing home and home care complaints the MN Health ... nearly 2,000 complaints of emotional or physical abuse by staff and ...


Neglect found in nursing home resident's death | Duluth News Tribune


Feb 1, 2017 - A small nursing home in Buhl has been cited for neglect in the case of a resident who fell on a concrete sidewalk just outside the facility and ...


Nursing Home Abuse News » Minnesota - Elderly Abuse


Nursing home abuse headlines from the Minnesota nursing home abuse news ... she sued a local senior home over the sudden death of her 89-year-old father.


State finds negligence led to deaths at nursing home |


Jan 4, 2017 - The Minnesota Department of Health has determined that negligence led to the deaths of two residents at a nursing home in Waconia. Through …


2016 Media Coverage of Abuse Reports & Earlier Major Coverage


98-year-old woman dead after walking out of nursing home in ... - KVLY


Jan 16, 2016 - (KTTC) A 98-year-old woman living at a senior home in Minnesota died after wandering outside in the freezing cold in the middle of the night.


Ramsey County sued by nursing home patient's family – Twin Cities


Feb 1, 2016 - ... of a Ramsey County-owned Maplewood nursing home who died after ... federal court in Minnesota against the Ramsey County Care Center, ...


Minnesota assisted-living facility sued in resident's 2013 ...


Feb 3, 2016 - A West Duluth assisted-living facility failed to protect a 74-year-old, dementia- stricken client who died after wandering away from the residence ...


Civil rights claim asserted in nursing home death – Minnesota Lawyer › Minnesota Legal News › Legal News


Feb 4, 2016 - One Sunday almost three years ago, Theresa Rotter, an 88-year-old resident at the Ramsey County Care Center, was served a lunch of baked ..


Minnesota Nursing Home Resident's Burn Leads to Death and ...


The Minnesota Department of Health has released its findings on the death of 91- year- old nursing home resident Mary C. Harris: the conclusions should send a ...


Mahnomen nursing home's narcotic overdose kills resident - MN ...

Apr 6, 2016 - The resident died less than two hours later. ... A second nurse at the nursing home verified that what was drawn up in the syringe matched the …


KARE 11 Investigates: Nursing home complaints kept secret | KARE11 ...


Her case is one of thousands of reports of possible abuse and neglect at Minnesota nursing homes that aren't investigated by the state's Department of Health.


Police Identify Man Who Died After Sun Exposure At Nursing Home ...


May 2, 2016 - Police Identify Man Who Died After Sun Exposure At Nursing Home ... A 65-year- old man, who died Saturday from cardiac failure, was staying ... So after much agonizing, his family checked him into a Minnesota nursing home.


Nursing home cited for neglect in patient's death | Minnesota 93


May 12, 2016 - A Minnesota nursing home has been cited for neglect in the death of a ... says the patient developed blood clots in the brain and died of a ...


Transcription error leads to resident death, citation for MN nursing home › News

May 12, 2016 - This incident marked the second time is just over a month that a Minnesota nursing home has been cited for a resident's death following a ...


Hopkins Nursing Home Cited for Neglect in Patient's Death |

May 12, 2016 - A Minnesota nursing home has been cited for neglect in the death of a patient given the wrong medication. Details of a state Department of ...


Death of patient at Hopkins nursing home linked to medication error ...


May 11, 2016 - Death of patient at Hopkins nursing home linked to medication error. It's the latest in a spate of safety violations at Golden Living facilities. For the second time in just over a month, a Minnesota nursing home has been cited for neglect in the case of a patient who died after a medical transcription error.


Transcript Error Lead to Nursing Home Resident's Death › Blog

May 23, 2016 - A Minnesota nursing home resident died after a transcription error left her without her blood-thinning medication for nine days.


Neglect occurred in Detroit Lakes group home death, state report says ...


May 25, 2016 - Neglect occurred in Detroit Lakes group home death, state report says ... according to a Minnesota Department of Human Services Office of ... had known about the vulnerable adult's medical problems and that nursing staff ...


Transcription Errors Leads to Nursing Home Death - The Bell Law Firm › Blog

Jun 1, 2016 - The death of a Minnesota nursing home resident in October 2015 was found to have been caused by a transcription error.


Social media abuse of nursing home residents often goes unchecked ...


Jul 14, 2016 - She remains eligible to work in any nursing home in the state. ... But the pathway to report elder abuse isn't straightforward, particularly for ...


MN Department of Health: Staff at a Cannon Falls nursing home to ...


Sep 15, 2016 - State regulators blame Gardens at Cannon Falls nursing home--in the case of a woman who died after choking on a sandwich last November.


State Regulators Say Cannon Falls Nursing Home Inadequately ...


Sep 15, 2016 - CANNON FALLS, MN (AP) - Minnesota regulators say a Cannon Falls nursing home failed to adequately supervise a resident who died after …


Cannon Falls nursing home is blamed in resident's choking death

Elderly resident who was on a liquid diet choked on a sandwich.


SEPTEMBER 15, 2016 —The Minnesota Department of Health, in findings released Wednesday, said the Gardens at Cannon Falls “did not have an adequate system to ensure cognitively impaired residents on [liquid] diets were adequately supervised.”


Tiny burn ends up killing Iron Range nursing home resident; facility ...


Oct 11, 2016 - A tiny burn on a nursing home resident's foot, inflicted when she touched a heat ... In the public portions of its findings released Friday, the Minnesota ... in Chisholm for the woman's death, determining that the home “failed to ...


INVESTIGATION: Minnesota Failing to Investigate Nursing Home ...

Dec 7, 2016 - RELATED: Filing a Complaint with the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center. “It doesn't feel good ... Minnesota Nursing Home Report Card.

Dec 7, 2016 - RELATED: Filing a Complaint with the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center. “It doesn't feel good ... Minnesota Nursing Home Report Card.

Elderly man found dead after wandering from senior apt. |


Elderly man found dead after wandering from senior apt. |

Dec 19, 2016 - An elderly man is dead after wandering away from his assisted living apartment ... afternoon the facility released a statement on the death of Thomas LeCloux. ... was found dead near a shopping area in Oak Park Heights, MN.

Hidden "granny cams" spread in popularity as weapon for catching elder abuse

Sisters are on a mission to help families install them. 

By Chris Serres Star Tribune, MARCH 14, 2016 — 12:17PM


Political and National News of Interest


Serious nursing home often not reported to police, federal investigators find

Ina Jaffe · NPR · Aug 28, 2017

More than one-quarter of serious cases of nursing home abuse are not reported to the police, according to an alert released Monday morning by the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Serious nursing home abuse often not reported to police, federal investigators find



Trump Moves to Impede Consumer Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes

AUG. 18, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is pushing to scrap a rule that would have made it easier for nursing home residents to sue nursing homes for injuries caused by substandard care, abuse or neglect, bringing its campaign to relax federal regulations to the delicate business of care for older Americans.        


Governor wants review of elder abuse secrecy issue

Lauren Leamanczyk, KARE 8:05 AM. CDT August 18, 2017


ST. PAUL, Minn. – Governor Mark Dayton is calling on the legislature to review a law critics say keeps families of vulnerable adults from getting the full story about cases of abuse and neglect.

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