Wife of man beaten to death sues assisted living facility

The wife of Gerald Propp, the man beaten to death by a fellow assisted living resident, is suing the Lakewood facility. 9NEWS at 9 p.m. 01/10/16.

KUSA - The wife of Gerald Propp, the man beaten to death by a fellow assisted living resident, is suing the Lakewood facility.

It's been nearly a year since 87-year-old Homer Castor beat 76-year-old Propp in the room they shared at Atria Park of Applewood. Both men suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Catherine Greway is suing Atria in Lakewood for false advertising, wrongful death and fraudulent concealment, all stemming from her claim the assisted living facility could have done more to protect her husband from the hands of another elderly resident.

"They told Cathy that they promised a level of care that they knew they couldn't provide and in fact didn't provide," said Attorney J. Reinan.

After searching more than a dozen facilities, she chose Atria when caring for her husband by herself became too much.

She said she counted on the assisted living facility to make sure Propp stayed safe, until one day she got a call he was in the hospital.

"He was just in horrible condition. He has been beat severely," she said.

His roommate Homer Castor, hit Propp repeatedly in the middle of the night and he passed away two days later.

"He was beaten mercilessly and the staff members didn't know this for two hours? What are they doing?" Reinan said.

Greway's attorney said the facility had limited staff -- just two to four people to watch over 25 residents. He said they didn't tell Greway that her husband's roommate had violent tendencies.

"Now I feel that they should have let me know more of what was going on and the problems that we had," she said.

Atria Applewood would not speak on camera but did a statement to 9NEWS:

"This was a tragic event. While we cannot comment on the pending lawsuit, we continue to offer our condolences to the Propp family and all those affected by his death."

"I think as I'm founding out now, there's just so much more behind the scenes you don't see," Greway said.

Reinan said his client was never told her husband had a new roommate or that he had problems -- information that could have swayed her decision about keeping him at the Atria facility.

After the beating death, state officials investigated Atria.

"What we found out after the health department investigated was a bunch of things that were very frightening to us," Reinan said.

Castor allegedly threatened to kill another resident, would walk into other bedrooms in the middle of the night and he scratched Jerry just a few weeks before his was beaten. Still, the two men were kept in the same room.

"He wasn't protected. They just didn't protect him," Greway said.

She doesn't want another family to lose a loved one like she did after trusting a facility to care for her ailing husband when she couldn't.

Castor passed away in November at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo. He was found incompetent and never charged with Jerry's murder.

Catherine Greway is suing the assisted living facility for $75,000 -- but that number could change if a jury finds the damages are worth more.

Tips and resources on how to choose a nursing home or assisted living facility:

-Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment nursing home consumer resources: http://1.usa.gov/1PRnHE2

-Medicare Nursing Home Compare tool: http://1.usa.gov/1OJqujr

-Colorado Long-term Care Ombudsman Program: http://bit.ly/1SIzZBa

"I recommend that you go to a tour of the facility. Tour as many facilities as you can. Don't pick the facility that smells the best or looks the best because that's not always a good indication," Reinan said.

He also recommends to visit nursing homes and/or assisted living facilities after tours end.

"Go there at night. Go there on weekends. go there when they're shorted staffed if you can. Go there during holidays. If you show up unannounced during a period of low staffing you can really see what the place looks like and what it smells like frankly," he said. 

Another tip is to speak with residents and family members of residents living at the facilities.

(© 2016 KUSA)


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