Austin Family Sues Healthcare Facility for Role in Woman's Death

July 30, 2018 11:18 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- An Austin family is suing a local senior living facility after they say the facility's negligence led to their loved one's death.


Dale Kaus' wife Doris died in September 2016 after her health had slowly declined. In December 2012, Doris moved to Our House Senior Living in Austin, where the family said Doris was neglected.

"She had some little deal on her heel, and we took her in and the lady doctor there at the Mayo Clinic at that time, she said 'This is through neglect on her heel,' and she says 'I have to turn this into the state medical,'" Kaus said.

"When we took her in the hospital the last time, they had her leg wrapped up; they had it too tight and her whole leg was dark black and blue, everything on it," he said. "Plus the sore on her posterior which was highly, highly, highly infected."

In September 2016, Dale learned Doris, his wife of 56 years, had blood poisoning. Doctors gave her five days to live.

Two weeks after Doris died, the Minnesota Department of Health visited Our House and concluded "based on a preponderance of evidence, neglect occurred when the facility failed to provide proper care and treatment of the client's coccyx, buttock and heel wounds." At the same time, the state investigated another case and concluded both Our House and its registered nurse, Gwendolyn Klinger, were responsible for neglect after failing to thoroughly assess a client after a fall.

In 2014, the state found Our House responsible for neglect when a staff member did not assess a change in a client's condition.

In June, Kaus filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Our House and Klinger. The company's president provided ABC 6 News with a statement regarding the case:

"KSMS Our House takes this matter and the allegations in the Complaint very seriously and intends to vigorously defend the action. It is KSMS Our House’s mission to provide the highest quality care and services to all of its residents.  Any situation involving a resident is confidential and we are unable to discuss a particular resident’s condition.  Consistent with our mission, we provide appropriate care to all assisted living residents. We remain committed to providing excellent services to the residents and families we serve."


Our House did not say whether Klinger is still employed at the Austin facility. ABC 6 News made multiple requests for comment from Klinger but did not receive a response.

While nothing can bring Doris back, the family hopes the lawsuit will lead to change and spare other families the same heartbreak.

"I still got my heart for her," Kaus said, choking up. "She's a wonderful person."


Logan Reigstad

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