$2M Award WWWF Wrestler Death Reveals Nursing Home Abuse

A large jury award is highlighting yet another case of nursing home abuse. This time, the massive award was made to the family of a former pro wrestler.

Chief White Owl (George Dahmer) enjoyed a 30-year professional career as a World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) wrestler, yet died just two months after entering a nursing home in Florida. Dahmer, 72 at the time he entered Lake Worth Manor (now Oasis Health) in February 2008, wasted away, dropping 30 pounds; was unable to walk or communicate; and developed ulcer sores that were so bad, they ate through to his tailbone and to the bone on both of his feet. He was brought to Oasis Health following bouts of dementia, said Lawyers.com.

When his wife transferred Chief White Owl to a hospital, he was far too weak to accept a feeding tube and died in May. Just before his death, said Lawyers.com, his physicians were considering amputating both of his feet. His wife and children brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Oasis Health.

The trial exposed a number of issues, including understaffing and low morale by overworked nursing home staff. The same staff, said Lawyers.com, neglected to monitor Dahmer’s medication, leaving him overmedicated and motionless. This enabled his ulcers to fester, according to the family’s attorney. Instead of walking the patient around and ensuring he was moving, his body was neglected and rotted away, the attorney added.

Not unexpectedly, the corporation that owns Oasis Health—Lake Worth Enterprises—argued that the case was more complex than it appeared and is considering an appeal, said Lawyers.com.

The family, according to their lawyer, initiated the lawsuit to send a message about the horrible care some receive in nursing homes and in nursing homes in Florida, in particular, where there is a large elder population, said Lawyers.com. Now, the family is looking to pass tougher nursing home laws and have harsher penalties for substandard care put in place. “We are going to name it ‘Chief White Owl’s Law’. We are getting an online petition together. We want to know he didn’t die in vain,” Dahmer’s daughter, Debbie, told Lawyers.com.

As we’ve long said, with the senior population growing and living longer, concern for the care of this country’s seniors has become increasingly important and relevant. And, with the elderly among our most fragile citizens we, more often than not, have no choice but to place our older relatives in the care of others. Sadly, families are often left with very limited options, a scary prospect as reports of nursing home abuse continue. And, despite the headlines nursing home abuse has garnered, news of elder abuse continues, as can be seen in the tragic case of Chief White Owl.

Elder abuse is a devastating indignity that attacks these defenseless members of society on all levels: Physical, emotional, chemical, financial, medical, and sexual. Sadly, neglect, abuse, mocking, and even workers who have abused residents as part of pranks against each other are becoming more and more commonplace.

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