Pioneer Press Newspapers, Suburban Chicago, Ill.
The family of a 91-year-old woman with dementia is suing the Glenview nursing home where she was a resident for $1 million after two caregivers allegedly recorded a Snapchat video of themselves taunting the woman, court documents indicate.
The family of Margaret Collins, 91, filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court against the Abington of Glenview Nursing and Rehab Center, and Brayan Cortez and Jamie Montesa, two certified nursing assistants who worked there.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and state privacy laws, after the elderly woman was allegedly “mentally and emotionally” abused at the facility by Cortez and Montesa.
On Dec. 28, 2018, according to police, Collins’ children said they received a copy of a Snapchat video showing their mother being taunted with a night gown by Cortez and Montesa, according to a news release from the family’s attorney, Leving and Perconti, announcing the lawsuit.
The lawsuit and the release states that the nursing staff at the facility, including Motesa and Cortez, knew that Collins did not like the gown.
“They deliberately taunted and bullied my mom,” Joan Biebel, Collins’ daughter, said in the release. “And they’re not even supposed to have phones when they’re on duty. They did this for their own entertainment, and posted it for their friends.”
The social media video had a banner on it that read, “Margaret hates gowns!” followed by laughing/crying emojis, and Cortez and Montesa could be heard laughing as Collins tried to shove the gown away, according to the release.
“These kids live their lives on social media and think nothing of posting things that can really damage others,” said Margaret Battersby Black of Levin and Perconti, the attorney who filed the suit. “This was done by the very people supposed to be caring for her, but instead they terrified and mortified this poor woman. And the nursing home just shrugged it off and decided it didn’t happen. Yet, when the police did their investigation, both CNAs immediately ‘fessed up.”
Cortez and Montesa “knew or should have known that effects of embarrassment, shock, grief, shame, humiliation, discomfort, and self-consciousness greatly exacerbate (Collins’) vulnerabilties and conditions,” according to the lawsuit.
They were each charged on Jan. 8 with disorderly conduct.
According to the release, the pair told police they “didn’t know” it was illegal to video someone in their private residence and post it on social media without consent.
Neither Cortez nor Montesa could be immediately reached Friday for additional comment.
They are each due to appear in court Aug. 26 in Skokie on the charges.
A man, who would only identify himself as the assistant administrator at the Abington, said Friday that “two employees” were terminated after the incident, and that administrators followed all “standards and policies.”
“The privacy of our residents is of the upmost concern for the Abington,” he said.
Family members called the nursing home after they saw the video and demanded the nursing assistants no longer care for their mother, according to the release.
The family moved Collins out of Abington a few days after the incident because the elderly woman was “so traumatized and upset” by the event that “she couldn’t sleep, grew fearful of a repeat attack and became so panicked at night they had to hire a private caregiver to stay with her,” the release states.
The lawsuit alleges that the nursing home didn’t properly report the incident, as they are mandated to do.
“They didn’t call the police. They didn’t call the state ombudsman. They didn’t call [Illinois Department of Public Health], and they denied to the family these people had traumatized Collins even though there was a video proving that they did. This was elder abuse, and they did nothing about it,” attorney Steven Levin, founding partner at Levin and Perconti, said in the release
According to Illinois Department of Public Health reports, Abington administrators reportedly investigated the incident and concluded, several days later, that the allegations were “unfounded” after coworkers vouched for the nurses.
A status hearing on the lawsuit is expected to be set in the fall, according to the release.
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