The family of a 72-year-old Lander woman whose eye was gouged out by a fellow Lander hospital patient Thanksgiving morning is now suing said hospital for failing to protect the woman from her attacker.
Elaine Tillman died about two weeks following being attacked and blinded by Patrick Rose, 53, of Dubois, while they were both being treated at SageWest Hospital in Lander. Tillman was life-flighted to Salt Lake City shortly after the attack.
Tillman’s daughters are suing Riverton Memorial Hospital, LLC, the company that owns SageWest. The lawsuit doesn’t specifically list the damages the daughters are seeking, but it is in excess of $75,000.
The lawsuit accuses the hospital company of negligence for failing to protect Tillman from harm.
According to the lawsuit, Rose was a psychiatric patient with a history of violence when he was held in the hospital on Thanksgiving morning.
The lawsuit said Rose was insufficiently restrained and supervised at the time, allowing him to leave his room and assault Tillman. The woman’s autopsy listed her cause of death as homicide.
The lawsuit alleged and it had been known for more than a year that SageWest had been “grossly” insufficient when supervising and monitoring of its psychiatric patients. It also accused Riverton Memorial Hospital of not spending the money to assure patients’ safety despite the complaints.
Officials have determined that Rose is not mentally fit to proceed with his case. He was moved to the Wyoming State Hospital in June for further evaluation.
According to media reports, a nurse was outside of Rose’s room when “he ran out of the room, rushed into the next room, and jumped on the elderly female patient before (the nurse) could react.”
Reasons for the attack are unknown but the Associated Press reported that Rose may have stopped taking medication
“People who take psychotropic medications and suffer from mental illness have a tendency to believe they don’t need to take the medication and then quit taking them, and then things go wrong from them,” Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt said.
Rose told the judge he had a traumatic brain injury.