Family of woman attacked in hospital files lawsuit

RIVERTON — The daughters of a woman who died about two weeks after her eye was gouged out last year, reportedly by another patient at SageWest Health Care in Lander, have sued the hospital. 

SageWest is named in the suit under its LLC’s official name, “Riverton Memorial Hospital,” which is a subsidiary of LifePoint Health Inc. 

The wrongful death suit was filed July 19 in federal court by June Louise Tillman and Cathy Ann Lucas. 

Their mother, Elaine Tillman, was in her hospital bed on Nov. 26, 2020 — Thanksgiving day — when Patrick Lee Rose was reported to have fled his own room, run into hers, and gouged out one of her eyes. 

That day also was Tillman’s birthday, the complaint notes. 

Tillman was flown to emergency care in Salt Lake City, where she died Dec. 9. 

Both the younger Tillman and Lucas are residents of Fremont County. 

According to the complaint, Tillman was “attacked by another patient whose dangerous and violent proclivities were known or should have been known by the defendant.” 

Tillman was in the emergency department of the hospital during the attack, “across the hall” from Rose, who was a psychiatric patient at the time. 

“It had been known for more than a year that SageWest Health Care (Lander) had grossly insufficient supervision and monitoring of its psychiatric patients,” the complaint reads, adding that community complaints did nothing to redirect the hospital’s resources toward fortified safety surrounding such patients. 

The suit calls Rose a “big, burly man” who was insufficiently restrained and insufficiently supervised. 

“(He) was able to leave his room, enter Mrs. Tillman’s room, assault her, gouge out one of her eyes, and cause brain damage.” 

Although the complaint states that Tillman died as a result of Rose’s actions, that has yet to be proved in court. 

Rose is undergoing a lengthy mental evaluation process under the state’s “not guilty by reason of mental illness” pleading provisions. 

However, the autopsy, kept from the public for months by Utah’s autopsy privacy standards, lists the cause of death as “homicide.” 

The suit list two varieties of negligence as a basis for relief, stating that the hospital failed to provide the care and protection that it could have. 

“Wherefore,” the complaint reads, “plaintiffs… pray the court enter judgment against the defendant in an amount supported by the allegations of this complaint, together with interests and costs.” 

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Robert P. Schuster of Jackson.