PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The widow of a former dementia patient has filed a $4.7 Million wrongful death lawsuit against a Forest Grove care center after her husband’s body was found dead in Gales Creek last April.
Suzanne Tanous said her husband Toufik (Tom) Tanous suffered from Alzheimer’s and that she had been caring for him at home for more than a year before she decided to place him under the care of Hawthorn House Memory Center in Forest Grove.
While she said she thought Tom would be safe there at the time, she told KOIN 6 News she now regrets that decision – as he was found dead just six days later.
“They knew about his condition,” Suzanne stated. “He had to be kept safe -not only for himself, but also for members of the community. You can’t just have them wandering around. It’s just ludicrous.”
Tanous said she was paying over $6,000 a month for her husband to reside at the Hawthorne House Memory Care, but he wouldn’t make it more than a week under their supervision
79-year-old Tanous went missing from Hawthorne House on April 27, 2021, the incident sparked a massive search which ended in tragedy when his body was pulled out of gales creek two days later.
Suzanne said she would learn later that he had made several attempts to escape the facility in the days leading up to his disappearance.
“They promised to take care of their family but instead after six days Mr. Tanous ended up dead in a creek, said Suzanne’s attorney Jason Kafoury of Kafoury & McDougal. “This is unacceptable.”
Court documents show Suzanne is suing Caring Places Management LLC, which operates Hawthorne House, Forest Grove beehive and its administrator for 4.7 Million dollars, citing wrongful death and negligence.
“This was a tragedy that could happen to any family,” Kafoury stated. “This facility had a long history of allowing people to escape. And this lawsuit is to send a message to memory care facilities all over our state that it’s not acceptable to give a promise to a family member that they’ll keep them safe. Unless they can actually do it.”
In a Forest Grove Police report, filed the day after Tom went missing, Officer Samuel Younce stated that the department had responded to twelve calls at Hawthorne House for various reports including other missing persons and attempt to locate incidents during the ten days leading up to Tanous’ disappearance.
In that April 28 report Younce wrote, “… it has appeared that the system being implemented at Hawthorne House is not working with staff and their clients.”
Refusing to comment further for privacy reasons, Attorney Logan M. Pratt who is representing Caring Places Management released a statement to KOIN 6 News which read, “The Hawthorne House has been caring for the elderly in our community for over 20 years. Our residents are our family, and our staff grieve for this loss.”
But Tanous told KOIN 6 News they knew about Tom’s condition and should have done more to deliver on their promise to keep him safe.
“I always thought that I would be with him to the end,” she said. “I never expected him to wander off on a cool April evening. Walk over a mile and drown in a dark Creek, in a community that he did not know.”