Odd Fellows Home sued for neglect of patient who died

WALLA WALLA -- A lawsuit filed in Walla Walla County Superior Court alleges an area assisted-living facility neglected to care for a patient, resulting in action that ultimately caused her death.

An administrator at Washington Odd Fellows Home denied the numerous allegations contained in the lawsuit, which was filed by the Kennewick-based law firm of Rettig Osborne Forgette.

Brothers Zahi Zalloua and Mounir Zalloua of Walla Walla said in a court document that their mother, Aida Anbra Zalloua, died April 12, 2010, after falling from a window in an upper-floor room at Washington Odd Fellows Home.

The plaintiffs said their mother was admitted to the care facility in August 2009, suffering from dementia, depression, hypertension and deep vein thrombosis. She also had attempted suicide in the past, all of which was made known to Odd Fellows staff.

The patient experienced worsening depression and paranoia in late 2009 and early 2010, her children state in the lawsuit. She began giving away possessions and saying she did not want to live.

Whitman College professor Zahi Zalloua, who held power of attorney for his mother, requested a meeting with the agency's resident physician, but the doctor refused the meeting, court documents say.

By late March, Aida was refusing food and Zahi expressed his concern in a message to a nurse at Odd Fellows, but said in the lawsuit that no one returned his call.

Aida was assigned a room on the top floor at the Boyer Avenue facility, with an unlocked window large enough for an adult to "easily pass through, with a door that locked from the inside," despite Odd Fellows staff knowing of her worsening physical and mental health and suicidal behavior, the Zallouas say in a court paper.

The lawsuit states the nonprofit elder-care facility failed on various levels, including staff training, responding to the family's concerns, appropriate supervision and in protecting the deceased woman from abuse and harm, including hurting herself. Odd Fellows also allegedly did not have Aida's condition properly evaluated and treated.

There is no argument that Aida Zalloua's death a year ago was "devastating" for residents and staff, said John Brigham, an administrator at Odd Fellows.

Aida's death was investigated by Walla Walla Police Department, the Department of Social and Human Services and the Walla Walla County coroner. "Those investigations revealed this was accidental and there was no wrongdoing," Brigham said.