An attorney for the mother of a patient strangled to death at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the case.
“What happened here is inexcusable neglect,” said attorney Ervin Gonzalez, who filed the complaint in Miami-Dade Circuit Court filed Thursday afternoon on behalf of Giovannina Paloumbus.
Her son, Raul Alexander Rios, 32, had been admitted to Aventura for depression and placed on the fourth floor psychiatric ward.
On June 26, he was found unresponsive on the floor. An investigation later showed he had been strangled. Another patient, who had been placed in the same room told police he used his hands and a bedsheet to strangle Rios.
The man, Alexander Thadeus Jackson, 31, now is in Miami-Dade County jail facing a murder charge.
“What I am asking for in this lawsuit is not just justice for this family, but let’s look into proper security and safety at this hospital and all other hospitals,” Gonzalez said.
The complaint seeks financial compensation for Paloumbus’ pain and suffering, funeral expenses and legal fees.
On June 26, Rios, who had been admitted for depression and placed in a room on the fourth-floor psychiatric ward, was found unresponsive on the floor.
Jackson, who was placed in the room earlier that day, admitted strangling Rios. Jackson, who goes by several aliases, was homeless and it was unclear why he was hospitalized.
In the 8-page complaint, Gonzalez blamed the hospital for creating a “serious hazard” by placing the two men in the same room.
Rios, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia at a young age, could not protect himself, his family has said.
Records show Jackson has a long history of arrests in Florida and North Carolina. Jackson’s charges include assault, possession and theft. According to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina, he served jail time for assaulting a female.
“[The hospital] knew or should have known of the foreseeable risk of harm to Raul Alexander Rios by placing the assailant in Raul Alexander Rios’ room without proper supervision and security,” Gonzalez wrote in the complaint saying the hospital had a “duty,” to protect Rios.
The hospital, which has not answered questions regarding Rios’ death, said in a statement shortly after Rios’ death that “the security and well-being of our patients, staff and visitors remain of utmost importance.”
Gonzalez said in this case the security was lacking.
“The hospital abandoned its obligations and duties to Raul,” he said.