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Pennsylvania Nursing Home Faces Wrongful Death Action After Man Dies From Head Injury

The family of Herbert McMaster Sr. has filed a civil wrongful death claim against Cathedral Village, a senior care center, and General Healthcare Resources, a staffing agency. McMaster died as a resident of the facility from a head injury that has already resulted in criminal charges for a member of the nursing staff. He was found dead in the lobby of the facility in his wheelchair and the authorities later charged Christann Gainey with neglect, involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence. The head injury was classified as being the result of an “unwitnessed fall.”

Failure to Test

McMaster had endured a stroke and was admitted to Cathedral Village for rehabilitation. It was revealed that he had not undergone required neurological assessment and testing. After finding him dead, the management asked Gainey to retrieve the paperwork regarding McMaster’s exams. Investigators suggest that Gainey realized that the proper neurological testing had not been completed and chose to falsify a report and lie to administrative staff. The report Gainey produced pertained to testing that occurred after he had died.

Medical Examiner Findings

James Garrow, on behalf of the Philadelphia Medical Examiner, explained McMaster had likely fallen and suffered the head injury. The result of death was formally ruled as resulting from a “blunt-impact head trauma and untreated subdural hematoma.” Gainey’s attorney insisted that neither recklessness nor intent was proven. She implied that McMaster may have fallen prior to Gainey’s arrival for her shift that day. Her attorney said that the investigation began after a White House representative requested it, as Mr. McMaster was the father of the celebrated U.S. Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, Jr.

Facility Response

Cathedral Village is a property owned by Presbyterian Senior Living, which has facilities throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Ohio. A spokesperson stated that Gainey was actually employed by a third-party employment staffing agency known as General Healthcare Resources. They said she was “removed from the community” immediately after the incident. Her counsel insisted that she was a “scapegoat.” Gainey, an LPN, was said to have cared for a total of 39 patients on the day of the incident.

Criminal Charges

In the current criminal manslaughter case, the prosecution alleges that Gainey willingly caused bodily injury through reckless actions. She is accused of neglecting her duties of providing care. Plaintiff counsel stated they intend to hold her accountable for neglecting a dependent person. In a public statement, the family described McMaster as a “compassionate soldier and public servant” who was “committed to his community.”

Nursing Home Litigation

Nursing homes and other long-term care providers have a duty to care for their residents and maintain a reasonably safe environment. Unfortunately, for a host of reasons, they too frequently find themselves facing civil claims relating to some of the following.

  • Lack of resident supervision, often the result of insufficient staffing levels or the carelessness or indifference of staff.
  • Staff often fails to regularly inspect the premises for potential hazards such as spills or objects left on the floor.
  • Psychological abuse involving threats.
  • Leaving a resident physically restrained for extended periods for no reason.
  • Neglect is among the most common problems and some indicators include
    • Poor hygiene or unsanitary conditions,
    • Significant losses of weight or strength that may result from dehydration and/or malnourishment,
    • Apparent injuries with no explanation, and
    • The development of bedsores (skin ulcers) from being left in bed without movement for extended periods.

About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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