Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk

A Colorado facility might have to pay punitive damages because a supervisor put the wrong safety clip on a lift that malfunctioned and led to a resident’s death, a federal court recently ruled.

The 2009 incident occurred at Centennial Healthcare Center in Greeley, operated by defendants SSC Greeley Centennial Operating Co. and SavaSeniorCare Administrative Services LLC. A certified nursing assistant was using a chair lift to move the resident, when the safety straps slid off a support bar and the resident fell to the ground. She died the following day.

Her son brought a wrongful death suit and asked for punitive damages. The district judge noted that the center’s maintenance supervisor had knowingly put an incompatible safety clip on the chair lift. Therefore, the defendants are subject to potential punitive damages, depending on what a jury finds, the judge ruled.