The brother of 48 year-old John Glenn Popple has filed suit for wrongful death damages against Step-by-Step Inc., the operator of a group home, New Hope Community Home, in Tunkhannock, PA. Popple, who suffered from autism, was a resident at New Hope Community Home, and was known to have a choking risk. He required constant around-the-clock, line-of-sight supervision.
On a night in September of 2010, Popple awoke and walked to the kitchen, without the staff’s knowledge, and stuffed four or five doughnuts in his mouth and began to choke. By the time staff members found Popple, and attempted to remove the food from his mouth, he had turned blue and his knees had buckled. The staff continued to reach for the food and delivered blows to his back to dislodge the rest- but without success. An emergency medical technician who responded to the scene performed the Heimlich maneuver six times before Popple went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead 17 minutes later. Popple had stuffed food into his mouth on two separate occasions prior to the fatal incident.
The brother claims that the facility was negligent by failing to provide proper training to its staff to ensure Popple’s safety. The brother alleges that the company should have installed a device to alert staff when Popple left his bedroom. The brother believes that the prior incidents indicated the high risk of choking and that such a device would have prevented Popple’s death.
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