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Jury awards $1.6 million to family of Willowglen Academy Resident

Largest of its kind in Stephenson County

Freeport, Ill. – Attorneys Tara Devine, Elizabeth Olszewski and John Mennie of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. won a record-$1.6 million wrongful death verdict in Stephenson County for the family of Ivette Ruiz, a 40-year-old mentally disabled resident of Willowglen Academy of Illinois, Inc. (“Willowglen”), a company located in Freeport, Illinois. According to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s Jury Verdict Reporter, this verdict is the largest of its kind in Stephenson County history. The trial began on March 7, 2016 and was heard by Stephenson County Judge David Jeffrey (Estate of Ruiz v. Willowglen, Case N. 12 L 5).

On December 2, 2010, despite a history of prior falls and medical issues including sprains and a fracture in her foot and ankle, Willowglen’s staff disregarded Ms. Ruiz’s safety, leaving her alone without supervision and assistance, which resulted in her having two serious falls on that day. After the second fall, Ms. Ruiz was transported from Willowglen to the emergency room at FHN Memorial Hospital, but due to her severe injury had to be transferred to Rockford, where she underwent emergency surgery at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center to treat her massive subdural hemorrhage. Ivette Ruiz died 12 days later on December 14, 2010 from a severe brain bleed. The death certificate lists blunt trauma to the head as the only cause of death.

“This tragedy is only made worse by the clear realization that this never had to happen. While no sum of money will ever bring this loving woman back to her family, hopefully this verdict will lead to both improved communication among staff and quality of care for Willowglen residents,” said attorney Tara Devine.

For additional information or media inquiries contact Jennifer Dolan at 312-519-0568.

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