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Franklin Times Does Follow-up Story on Wrongful Death Action Filed by Attorney Brandon S. Atwater

Assisted living center owner vows to reopen after tragedy
Thursday, August 18, 2016
LOUISBURG — The operator of an assisted living facility rocked by a stabbing death last year and a civil lawsuit this month said she’s not defeated.

“I plan to re-open real soon,” said Carolyn Newell, who operates The Jordan, a care facility on E.F. Cottrell Road that she said she closed down recently to remodel, not because of any pressure from state regulators.

“Regardless of what happened, I will still do my best to serve Franklin County,” she said. “I’m not going to let this stop me.

“There are too many people in this county that need help.”

Two of those people, apparently, were Elouise Collier, 88, and Patricia Marrow, 58.

They were roommates at the facility prior to the early morning hours of Dec. 29, when Franklin County sheriff’s deputies responded to their room, finding Collier dead from knife wounds.

Marrow was charged with murder in the case.

The criminal charges against Marrow remain pending as the courts try to determine her competency to stand trial.

On Aug. 4, Durham attorneys, on behalf of a distant family member of Marrow, filed a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging that operators of The Jordan were negligent and responsible for her death.

The plaintiff’s attorney has declined comment, but the lawsuit filed by Durham attorney Brandon Atwater alleges:

• That staff noticed Marrow exhibiting an increase in psychotic behavior, which posed an immediate risk, but did not take appropriate steps to bolster safety measures at the facility;

• Staff failed to administer Marrow’s anti-psychotic medication;

• On the night in question, Brandon Newell, the night staff person and the Newell’s son, experienced signs of a crisis, but failed to provide medication or take any other step to prevent Marrow from harming herself or others: (The lawsuit also alleges that Brandon Newell was not qualified for the position he filled. Carolyn Newell said they were qualified and were equipped to handle overnight hours at the facility);

• Staff was required to keep sharp items away from Marrow, but failed to secure the knife found in Marrow’s possession (Newell said the knife that was apparently used in the murder was not a knife that belonged to the facility, believing Marrow might have gotten it on a recent family visit. Newell also said that staff are not allowed to frisk or search patients for weapons);

• Following the death, a review by the state Department of Health and Human Services found The Jordan to be in violation of multiple state rules, including training requirements.

Ultimately, the lawsuit alleges, DHSR found that [The Jordan] “failed to provide care and services which were adequate and appropriate” and that such failure “resulted in the death of Ms. Collier.”

Prior to the incident, The Jordan had a four-star rating. Following the death, The Jordan dropped to a two-star rating and, subsequently, the E.F. Cottrell Road facility has closed.

At the time of Marrow’s death, Newell lamented the lack of a county hospital and its corresponding mental health care, which she believes was a factor in Marrow’s actions.

Following the lawsuit, Newell lamented the apparent non-involvement of Collier’s family in her care while she was alive.

“I suffered two losses,” Newell said. “I loved Ms. Elouise and Ms. Patricia, too.

“… If [Collier’s] family is so concerned now,” said Newell, noting that Collier’s family members operate a family care center in the northern part of the county, but did not take Collier in, “why didn’t they come before it got to the point that Social Services had to get involved [and place her at The Jordan.]

“… Then they say it was negligence,” Newell said. “No, it was not.”

It is not clear when the civil matter will be heard in court.

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