UPDATED 8.12.2011 6:45pm by Julie Montanaro
The family of Marching 100 maestro William Foster is suing the nursing home where he spent the last years of his life.
It claims negligence by the staff at Miracle Hill cost Foster his life.
William Foster was buried in white gloves with his baton still in hand. The founder and leader of FAMU's Marching 100 died last August.
Now a lawsuit filed by his estate claims nursing home negligence cut the legendary band leader's life short.
"Dr. Foster was 91 years old, and we recognize that and everyone in the nursing home.. they've got some health issues no doubt...but he didn't need to die this way. This was a needless and untimely death," said attorney Scott Gwartney.
Foster's son has filed a wrongful death suit against Miracle Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The suit filed Friday claims employees there did not follow doctors orders to keep Foster's bed elevated. Critical orders, his attorney says, given that Foster had a feeding tube.
"He had orders in his chart that the head of the bed was to be elevated at all times and there were two visitors his last evening in the nursing home and both of them observed that his bed was flat. Why it wasn't elevated, we don't know, but we know it should have been elevated," Gwartney said.
And do you contend that is what caused William Foster's death?
"Absolutely," Gwartney said.
"That's kind of surprising because I thought they took very well care of him," said FAMU senior Benjamin Eubank.
Eubank, who is a member of the Marching 100, says he visited Foster at Miracle Hill twice.
"When guests came they always greeted him and greeted the guests or whatever. They always came to check on him while the guests were there, but then again they could have been showing good face," Eubank said. "I'm anxious to see what the courts decide."
James Moriarity is the attorney representing Miracle Hill. He says, "Dr. Foster was provided care and treatment in accordance with his Residents’ Rights and the standard of care." He went on to say that "Dr. Foster suffered from a long-standing progressive and terminal condition, from which he ultimately passed away."
UPDATED 8.12.2011 4pm by Julie Montanaro
The lawyer representing Miracle Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center issued this statement:
"Miracle Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and our care givers are committed to this community, our residents and their families. We are dedicated to providing our residents with the best possible care to enable them to maintain their highest level of independence and quality of life in the face of medical conditions that cause them to admit to our home.
Dr. Foster was provided care and treatment in accordance with his Residents’ Rights and the standard of care. Unfortunately, due to HIPAA regulations, we are unable to disclose Dr. Foster’s medical conditions and the care, therapies, and support provided to Dr. Foster, other than to state that Dr. Foster suffered from a long-standing progressive and terminal condition, from which he ultimately passed away.
Here at Miracle Hill Health and Rehabilitation Center, our residents are like family to us, and their health and well being is our most important priority. Our condolences have, and continue to be, with his family."
James D. Moriarty, Esq.
[UPDATE] TALLAHASSEE, FL - August 12, 2011 - 12:30pm by Julie Montanaro
The Chief Administrator at Miracle Hill, Freddie Franklin, returned our call and has no comment on the lawsuit filed today.
TALLAHASSEE, FL - August 12, 2011 (Noon) by Julie Montanaro
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed just before 9AM this morning.
William Foster, who founded and led FAMU's Marching 100 for more than 50 years, died last August.
His family is now suing Miracle Hill nursing home. The suit claims Miracle Hill ignored doctor's orders to keep Foster's bed elevated and as a result, his feeding tube backed up and his lungs filled with fluid.
Foster died of "aspiration pneumonia" 10 days later.
We did call Miracle Hill for a comment, we'll let you know what its director has to say as soon as we hear from him.