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Fatal Attack of Elderly Woman in New Jersey Alzheimer's Facility Results in Wrongful Death Complaint Against Owner/Operator and Staff


For Immediate Release

Somerville, New Jersey (September 19, 2012) - Rita Ellinger, 85, afflicted with progressive Alzheimer's, moved into Arden Courts of Whippany (18 Eden Lane, Whippany, New Jersey) in May 2010 with the hope of living the rest of her life in a caring and, more importantly, safe and secure environment. Instead, according to a multi-count injury and wrongful death civil action filed today in Camden County Superior Court, Ms. Ellinger was attacked by a male resident with a known history of at least two prior violent assaults on other Arden Courts of Whippany residents. Tragically, Ms. Ellinger died five days later from massive brain injuries directly caused by the attack, according to the lawsuit.

Rita Ellinger, Luann PotereMs. Ellinger (pictured with her niece, Luann Potere), who retired after serving as a hostess for nearly 30 years at the Clinton Inn, of Tenafly, moved to the facility from her long time home in Little Ferry, New Jersey. In the complaint, filed by Michael S. Ringold, Esq. (Dansky Katz Ringold York, P.C., Marlton, New Jersey) it is asserted that Ms. Ellinger previously complained to the Arden Courts staff that she was being harassed by a male resident. The administrators and staff at Arden Courts, it is alleged, knew or should have known that the aggressive resident had already attacked other residents of the facility. Rather than take action to protect Ms. Ellinger and the other memory-impaired residents, on the night of the attack the Arden Courts staff merely directed Ms. Ellinger to avoid her would-be assailant.

A powerful individual, the male resident was observed blocking Ms. Ellinger's way before grabbing, choking, and then knocking her to the ground. While the facility staff saw Ms. Ellinger's head hit the floor, she was not given immediate medical attention. Several hours later, she was rushed to Morristown Memorial Hospital after being found unresponsive in her room. Tragically, Ms. Ellinger died in the hospital on October 8th, 2010 - five days after the attack.

Besides Arden Courts of Whippany, the numerous defendants in the Complaint include the facility's parent company, HCR Manor Care, of Toledo, Ohio. It is owned by the private equity firm Carlyle Group (CG:NYSE).

Ringold who has represented victims and their loved ones in numerous elder abuse cases, said the Complaint was filed on Ms. Ellinger's behalf by her niece, Luann Potere, of Clifton, New Jersey.  Mr. Ringold stated, "This horrific tragedy was clearly preventable if the facility and its staff had fulfilled its lawful obligations to the resident. What happened is inexcusable and the law provides for those responsible to be held accountable."

Ringold stated that when it comes to protecting the welfare of residents in assisted living and long term care facilities like Arden Courts, New Jersey has some of the strictest laws in the U.S. However, he noted that the laws are only effective when the facilities are in compliance.


Michael S. Ringold, Esq.

ringold@njlegalhelp.com / (856) 489-1515



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