Archive for Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mother of CLO client files lawsuit claiming wrongful death

February 19, 2012


A McLouth woman has filed a lawsuit against Community Living Opportunities Inc. alleging her son, who had mental and physical disabilities, died in 2010 because of injuries he suffered at a west Lawrence residential facility.

Leaders of Community Living Opportunities, or CLO, are denying the lawsuit’s claims.

The suit filed in Douglas County District Court on behalf of Josephine VanDruff claims an employee of CLO’s Monterey Way

Cottage on Feb. 16, 2010, was transporting her son, Timothy D. Gibson. Due to Gibson’s physical abilities, he needed assistance to move or walk.

“The employee transporting (Gibson) did so in a negligent manner that failed to meet the accepted standard of care,” VanDruff’s attorney Michael Sexton wrote in the suit. “As a direct and proximate result of the negligence of defendant’s agent, servant or employee, (Gibson) was caused and/or allowed to fall.”

As a result of the fall, Gibson suffered from quadriparesis, a muscle weakness affecting all four limbs, and he died about two months later, “as a direct and proximate result of the injury,” according to claims in the lawsuit.

According to his obituary in the Journal-World, Gibson was 51 and died April 6, 2010, at Hillside Village Nursing Home in De Soto.

CLO officials said they would fight the allegations in court.

“Tim was well-loved, and he was well cared for for over two decades at CLO up to the day that he left,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Strouse said. “We are not in agreement, of course, in any of the claims.”

Strouse said CLO has operated the small residential facility at 1121 Monterey Way since 1991.

In the suit, Sexton wrote that VanDruff suffered mental anguish, suffering and bereavement because of her son’s death and also incurred expenses for his funeral and burial. VanDruff is seeking monetary damages in excess of $75,000.

Chief District Judge Robert Fairchild has not scheduled any hearings in the case.


johnsont1 2 years, 1 month ago

My father worked there for almost twenty years and I can tell you first hand that he never called the people they assisted "consumers" or "clients," he always spoke of them with the same words that he would use to describe anyone else - as people. He did not tolerate neglect on the behalf of their employees, and trained the employees so well that there was not a chance for incompetence. Many other organizations around the country look at CLO as a model organization because of its outstanding track record.

As I grew up, I came to know several of the residents and employees at CLO, and it was very apparent that CLO put 110% into the care and well-being of the individuals they serve. It's too bad that the only articles to make the paper focus on terrible things that happen - it gives the public an unrealistic picture. You never seem to read articles praising outstanding compliance.

My condolences go out to the family of Timothy. I don't know the details of this particular incident, so I'm going to try not to make a naive remark about the situation, but there are often mistakes that can occur that are not due to negligence. I think the fact that Josephine trusted her son with CLO for over two decades illustrates how much she trusted the organization. Nonetheless, as "mental anguish, suffering and bereavement" are common things that people experience when a loved one passes, I understand her frustration and reasons for legal action.


57chevy 2 years, 1 month ago

Too many lawyers! The parent (I use the term loosely. It applies not to the birth mother but to the people who rear the child) has had their child in the care of an organization that is trying and apparently succeding (developmentally delayed people living into their 50's is not to be taken lightly) in taking care of the severely disabled sues them for wrongful death. I'd say if she was paying top dollar for the care perhaps she would have some claim, but I don't suspect that is the case. Organisations like CLO take the unwanted members of society that have no ability to take care of themselves and give them something like a reasonable quality of life. I would not expect the average american family to be willing or able to this for their kin, but many do. If you don't, then by God thank the people who do it for you, don't sue them. As they say, "If you want something done right, do it yourself". If you can't take care of your own, at least don't cripple the people who do it for you with sleazy law suits.


akt2 2 years, 1 month ago

If it was such a terrible place, why would a parent leave a disabled, adult child in their care for over 2 decades? 20 years would be a long time for a parent to look the other way or not notice neglect.


loiria 2 years, 1 month ago

I am a bereaved parent of a special needs child and lived in Lawrence for just over 7 years. While my son was a child when he passed, I never got to see my son grow up but I do understand that there are those parents/caregivers that have varies degrees of needs depending upon their age and health. I have had to move away from the Lawrence area to attend to my family in which I take care of my aging parents and my survivng child. I would have liked to see my son grow up however I cherish the few years I had with him. I myself would have most likely been put in the same situation later on in life.


BigDog 2 years, 1 month ago

Cant_have_it_both_ways (anonymous) says… Pawn your kid off onto the state and the taxpayer, then sue when things don't go as you plan, while you go on with your life. Shame shame shame.

Nothing like being judgemental without knowing any facts. Like the adult son could be much larger than the mother .... making it difficult for her to physically assist. Did he have any kind of behavioral/aggression issue. What is the mother's health like? Some of these people being served have parents who are much older ...

I don't know either but sure makes it hard to second guess someone's decision to put the adult in the care of someone else without knowing anything about either party and their life circumstances.


jafs 2 years, 1 month ago


Remarkable really, that people are so open with their hatefulness.


Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 1 month ago

Pawn your kid off onto the state and the taxpayer, then sue when things don't go as you plan, while you go on with your life. Shame shame shame.


kimk 2 years, 1 month ago

I had a friend that worked there. She finally had to leave because of all the neglect that she saw on a daily basis. She would go to higher ups in the company and they refused to do anything about time after time. They very rarely passed State inspections due to how it was run. She actually called in a tip in to LJW thinking maybe some publicity would help. LJW never wrote anything about it.


pea 2 years, 1 month ago

Have no input on this particular case but I'm told they actually call their residents "consumers" rather than "clients". Awful, right?


lawrencenerd 2 years, 1 month ago

Well, this is quite vague. Quadraparesis is a symptom, not the underlying problem. In this case if he got it only after falling I'd have to assume there was some sort of spinal injury involved. Again, it is much too vague.


Steve Jacob 2 years, 1 month ago

CLO is a good organization, from what I have seen they take the the more severe "special needs" people that are too much for Cottonwood. That being said, the turnover among staff has to be large, especially the lower staff that would be living in the house and transporting. Just saying it's tough work.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.