A Michigan family has filed a lawsuit against a group home claiming their loved one was “starved to death,” a claim the facility vehemently denies.
The family of 63-year-old Debra Bigham, who died in April 2016, is alleging that the home failed to provide proper nutrition and healthcare, which ultimately led to her death. The suit, filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, names the facility and the director, along with the state Department of Health and Human Services and the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, as defendants.
The lawsuit claims that Bigham, who suffered from a severe mental illness, was not provided with adequate nutrition or medical care. “The defendants failed to act in any meaningful way to ensure Debra Bigham was given the appropriate nutrition and medical care that would have been necessary for her to remain alive,” the complaint reads.
The suit alleges that Bigham weighed only 77 pounds when she was admitted to the facility in February 2016. Despite her “gravely ill” condition, the complaint contends, the facility failed to provide her with adequate nutrition and healthcare.
The family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees.
The group home, however, has denied the allegations and insists that it provided Bigham with “appropriate nutrition and medical care.” In a statement, the facility noted that Bigham was seen regularly by a medical doctor and received treatment for her illness. The facility also stated that it “followed all state and federal regulations” in caring for Bigham.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
The legal action taken by the Bigham family raises questions about the adequacy of care provided in Michigan group homes and the oversight of such facilities. The case could set a precedent for how similar situations are handled in the future.
The suit seeks to hold the facility accountable for the death of Debra Bigham and to ensure that no other families have to suffer such a tragedy in the future.