Family's appeal denied by court in resident wheelchair death case

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A Mississippi appeals court on Tuesday upheld a decision to dismiss a case against a Biloxi nursing home accused of negligence when a resident fell out of a wheelchair.

Sanders Hopkins Sr., a resident of Biloxi Community Living Center, was headed to a dialysis appointment in 2013. His family sued the dialysis center and transport company after Hopkins' wheelchair fell over as he was being pushed down a van ramp. Hopkins hit his head and was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma; he died two days later.

Son Sanders Hopkins Jr. added the center to the lawsuit 11 months later he originally sued, alleging the facility provided his father with an oversized, top-heavy wheelchair. The provider filed a motion to dismiss, arguing Hopkins Jr. waited too long to add them to the suit.

A county circuit court dismissed Hopkins Jr.'s complaint against the nursing home in July 2016, which the family appealed.

On Tuesday a judge panel for the State Court of Appeals ruled that Hopkins Jr. was “derelict” in not adding the nursing home to his complaint until a statute of limitations had run out.

“The identity of [Community Living Center] was known, and its potential liability was known at the time Sanders filed his original complaint,” the court wrote.

The panel affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit.