“The jury did conclude that this hastened her death, and we presented evidence of that, and the jury also gave more money for what they put her through,” Lourie said.
In a statement to the AJC, Somerby Sandy Springs said the case was an “unfortunate and unusual event” that took place when the facility was under prior ownership. ”Any loss of a loved one is heartbreaking and, as professional caregivers, we understand the grief felt by this former resident’s family,” the statement said. Somerby said the facility’s current owners established new training, protocols and standards.
Prior to the ant attacks, Perloe had health issues and was on hospice care, but she was stable and able to visit with family and participate in activities with a high quality of life, said her son, Dr. Mark Perloe. He said he hopes that her case would prompt new requirements for better medical oversight at senior care homes.
Ants had been a problem at Somerby for at least two months before Betty Perloe was stung repeatedly, but the facility didn’t take adequate steps to get them under control, Lourie said. The expert testimony made it clear, Lourie said, that ants can be dangerous, especially for frail elderly people.
In an unrelated case, a man who was a resident at a Veterans Affairs long-term care facility in Atlanta died in 2019 after being repeatedly attacked by fire ants.
“Those problems have to be addressed,” Lourie said. “It’s more than a nuisance or irritation. It’s a threat to the health and safety of residents.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution closely covers the senior care industry. The newspaper’s 2019 “Unprotected” series exposed breakdowns in care and oversight across the assisted living industry. The AJC also exposed failures to protect senior care residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.