The family of a severely diabetic man whom authorities said died at the hands of a nurse overseeing his care last year has filed a wrongful death suit against the facility where he lived, alleging it allowed the nurse to berate and bully him, and ultimately cause his death.

Former nursing home nurse Heather Pressdee has already been charged with administering excessive doses of insulin to patients — 17 of whom died.

In total, she allegedly mistreated 22 patients — some diabetic and others not — with the dangerous doses she administered at five different care facilities from 2020 to this year, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.

Now, a new lawsuit has been filed against one of those facilities, Sunnyview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Butler County, Pennsylvania, where Nicholas Cymbol died May 1, 2023.

The suit filed Wednesday in Butler County, the family’s attorney Rob Peirce saidalleges the center and its operator were negligent, failed to train employees to recognize and report abuse, and failed to remove Pressdee from Cymbol’s care even though she had bullied him and called him a derogatory term.

Sunnyview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

Cymbol’s death

Cymbol, 43, was a resident at Sunnyview. He was a “brittle diabetic,” meaning he often experienced large swings in his blood glucose levels, he had an anoxic brain injury, blindness and neuropathy and thus required around-the-clock care, the complaint said.

Pressdee, who was hired in January 2023, was the manager of the unit where Cymbol lived.

In that role, she was responsible for providing direct care to residents, addressing resident care concerns and conducting internal investigations into staff complaints or abuse.

The complaint alleged Pressdee “routinely insulted, berated, bullied and abused Mr. Cymbol, just as she had done to other residents.”

Staff allegedly knew she “disliked” Cymbol, and she routinely called him derogatory terms in reference to his brain injury within earshot of other Sunnyview staff, the filing said.

Sunnyview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Butler County, Pa.Google Maps

On several occasions, she allegedly prevented other nurses from feeding or giving water to Cymbol, and had him eat alone when he was taken to the communal dining room.

Pressdee had already been linked to other suspicious resident deaths when she was caring for him, the complaint said.

One one occasion, she told other staff members Cymbol was “going to be the next one to die anyway,” the complaint said.

Despite these red flags, the facility didn’t remove Pressdee from his care, the complaint said.

On April 30, 2023, Cymbol’s nurse recorded his blood sugar level at 167 mg/dL at 6:30 a.m. Just 30 minutes later, at 7 a.m., Pressdee documented his blood sugar had allegedly risen to 380 mg/dL.

Pressdee then injected Cymbol with 60 units of insulin, and his blood sugar plummeted. She then tried to reverse the drop by administering multiple doses of glucagon, the filing said.

The suit said she initially refused to call 911, but paramedics were eventually called after she was confronted by other staffers.

Cymbol was taken to Butler Memorial Hospital for hypoglycemia — a condition in which one’s blood sugar level is lower than the standard range — and was discharged and returned to Sunnyview that same evening.

Despite having been hospitalized, Sunnyview nursing staff allegedly failed to monitor his blood sugar and condition.

That evening into the morning of May 1, his condition “gradually declined,” the complaint said.

Shortly after 4 a.m. on May 1, a nurse at Sunnyview who was not Pressdee found him in a “hypoglycemic crisis and foaming at the mouth.”

Cymbol’s sister, Melinda Brown, was called and told to come to the facility. At 4:30 a.m. she received a call from a nurse saying Cymbol had died.

His cause of death was initially identified as myocardial infarction.

At first, Cymbol’s family believed he died of natural causes, the suit said, but it wasn’t until an investigation by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General that they ultimately learned Pressdee had administered an excessive and lethal dose of insulin to Cymbol, resulting in his death.

The day Cymbol died, Pressdee was terminated by Sunnyview for exhibiting abusive behavior toward residents and staff, according to the complaint.

After Cymbol’s death, she sent a sympathy card to his family saying, “nick was one of a kind,” according to the suit.

Failures at Sunnyview

The suit said the center failed in even hiring Pressdee given her checkered career history, in which she worked at 10 medical facilities from 2018 to December 2022 and was forced to resign or was terminated from each of those jobs due to “abusive tendencies and behavior toward residents and staff.”

While at Sunnyview, she allegedly exhibited “troubling and erratic behavior,” but the facility “consistently failed” to train staff to recognize and report the abuse or neglect of residents. As a result, her abuse was allowed to “pervade throughout the facility,” the complaint said.

The suit said members of the Sunnyview nursing staff began to notice residents whom Pressdee had access to “were passing away unexpectedly and/or under suspicious circumstances, causing the nursing staff to believe Pressdee had involvement in their deaths.”

The suit outlined some of those other suspicious resident deaths.

But the center “completely and repeatedly ignored the concerns of staff and residents pertaining to Pressdee’s treatment of residents.”

Pressdee’s arrest and charges

Weeks after Cymbol’s death and Pressdee’s subsequent termination, the Pennsylvania Department of Health conducted an investigation of the facility, according to the complaint.

Sunnyview Operating LLC and the center terminated or reprimanded staff who provided information to the department regarding resident deaths or Pressdee’s conduct, the complaint said.

On May 24, 2023, an arrest warrant was issued and she was taken into custody in connection with two resident deaths from insulin-induced hypoglycemia at Quality Life Services–Chicora, the lawsuit said.

She admitted to injecting those residents with the intention of killing them and she was subsequently charged with two counts of criminal homicide, counts later upgraded to murder in the first and third degree, the complaint said.

Then, in November, she was charged with 17 additional counts of attempted homicide and 19 counts of neglect of care-dependent persons for deaths at facilities in Butler, Allegheny, Westmoreland and Armstrong counties.

In Cymbol’s case, she was charged with murder and criminal neglect.

The criminal investigation into Pressdee is ongoing.

The November attorney general’s office news release announcing the additional charges does not note charges filed against Sunnyview.

Lawyers representing Pressdee in the criminal case, Phil DiLucente and Jim DePasquale, said they are not involved with the civil lawsuits but added that it’s possible the former nurse “pleads guilty to everything she is charged with” and that a status hearing has been set for May.

If she pleads guilty, “the only issue becomes whether she was negligently hired and or negligently supervised and what the damages are,” the lawyers said.

The new suit, filed by Brown, Cymbol’s sister, as well as the administrator of his estate, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and demands a jury trial.


Leave A Reply

© 2024 Time Bulletin. All Rights Reserved.