Nursing home sued over fatal Christmas accident

Photos of Mary Meuse and her family on a poster arranged for her funeral.
Photos of Mary Meuse and her family on a poster arranged for her funeral. Laurie Swope

The family of a woman who was accidentally dropped in a Wilmington nursing home, broke both her legs, bled internally, and died two days later is suing the facility and its parent company, Synergy Health Centers, a troubled New Jersey firm that owns 10 other Massachusetts nursing homes.

A 2015 family photo of Mary Meuse.
A 2015 family photo of Mary Meuse. Laurie Swope

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Middlesex Superior Court, alleges inadequate staffing, training, and supervision at Woodbriar Health Center caused the death of 83-year-old Mary Meuse.

“Woodbriar, and its owner, managers, and operators, knew that inadequate staffing leads to incidents like the one that led to Ms. Meuse’s death,” according to the family’s attorney, David Hoey.


State investigators concluded that three shifts of nurses at Woodbriar learned that Meuse broke her legs on Christmas Day 2015 when she was accidentally dropped by a nursing assistant. But the nurses failed for 24 hours to let Meuse, or her family, know the results of X-rays.

Meuse, who was taking blood thinning medication for heart problems, bled internally from her injuries.

The lawsuit alleges that while Synergy failed to sufficiently staff its nursing home, the company and its owners received more than $3.1 million in various consulting, management, and other fees from Woodbriar just in 2015.

A Synergy spokeswoman said the company could not comment on the pending lawsuit, but wanted to “reiterate what we said at the time [of the accident.] We are saddened by the passing of one of our residents and our condolences go out to her family. We continue to work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep our residents safe.”

Kay Lazar can be reached at kay.lazar@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.