A lawsuit was filed against Glenwood Care and Rehabilitation nursing home for failing to monitor and supervise Mark Billiter who was allowed to wander away from the facility and was found frozen to death next to a dumpster. Billiter was only 56 years old. Billiter had suffered from heart-attack induced dementia, which required medical attention and constant supervision in a secured medical treatment facility. Billiter wandered away between 7 and 8 p.m. April 15. The facility failed to report the man as missing to his family or police for nearly 12 hours, the filing says. He was found dead two days later beside a dumpster at a self-serve gas station about four miles from the facility.
Attorney Tracey Laslo is representing the plaintiff.
“This is a tragedy that could have been prevented if the facility had followed its own policies and procedures,” Laslo said Monday afternoon. “The family is distraught because it was preventable.”
Billiter had been a patient and resident there for years. His incapacity was well known to the Glenwood staff, the complaint alleges.
When Billiter wandered out of the secured area, he “was ushered out … of Glenwood’s facility by an unknown member of (staff) while following another patient’s visitor,” the plaintiff contends in court records.
The Stark County Coroner’s Office performed an autopsy and ruled the cause of death to be “environmental (cold) exposure.” The report specifically noted “prolonged exposure to cold environmental elements with wet/insufficient clothing.”
“Had (Billiter) been reported missing soon after he left the facility, he would have been found and safely returned,” the lawsuit contends. “Instead, because of the defendant’s wrongful actions, he slowly froze to death while curled on the ground beside a dumpster.”