The wife of a man with dementia who walked out of a Forest Grove assisted-living facility and drowned in Gales Creek is suing for $4.7 million, according to a lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court on May 25.
Suzanne Tanous, wife of Toufik Tanous, is claiming wrongful death and negligence against Caring Places LLC, which operates the Hawthorne House assisted-living facility, and Charity Jammeh, an administrator at the Hawthorne House.
According to the lawsuit, Tanous admitted her husband to Hawthorne House for care and treatment of advanced dementia at a rate $6,540 per month April 21, 2021, and the contract noted his escaping and eloping behaviors, according to the lawsuit.
Over the next few days, Tanous tried to escape multiple times and was verbally and physically combative with staff, but when his wife expressed doubts about continuing his stay, Jammeh reassured her that the facility could provide safety and adequate care, according to the lawsuit.
On April 27, less than a week after Tanous checked into the facility, Forest Grove Police responded around 8:30 p.m. to a call that Tanous had walked away from the facility within the past hour. His body was found April 29 in the waters of Gales Creek near the Highway 47 overpass, just outside city limits and about a mile southwest of the facility.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office said at the time that the 79-year-old was likely disoriented and unable to seek help on his own.
The lawsuit lists a dozen failures on behalf of the defendants, including failing to have working locks on doors, a failure to have a patient escape plan in place, and failing to immediately report Tanous as missing.
"It's a tragic situation when a family trusts a care home and then learns that they never should have trusted it. Something like this is so avoidable," said attorney Mark McDougal, who is representing Tanous from Portland-based firm Kafoury & McDougal.
Since March 2019, the Oregon Department of Human Services has uncovered three abuse violations in which the current owners of Hawthorne House failed to provide a safe environment and another in which they failed to report potential or suspected abuse, according to state records.
"The Hawthorne House has been caring for the elderly in our community for over 20 years. Our residents are our family, and our staff grieve for this loss," Caring Places Chief Operations Officer Dawn Pratt said in an email. "We are unable at this time to say anything further, in observance of the privacy of our residents and their families."
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