Off the Beaten Patch: Two North County Institutions Tangled in Lawsuits

Family sues Lutheran Senior Services, and former STLCC Florissant Valley employee seeks damages.

Family sues Lutheran Senior Services at Hidden Lake in North County for wrongful death.

Jack Schmitz of Lake Havasu City, AZ, and his sister, Jeanne James of Dana Point, CA, are suing Lutheran Senior Services in St. Louis County court for wrongful death, breach of contract and premises liability in connection with the 2009 death of their father Daniel Schmitz, a resident of The Gables at Hidden Lake in north St. Louis County.

According to court documents, the siblings allege that Daniel Schmitz passed away four days before his 80th birthday as the result of a fall in his independent living residence at 1728 Catherine Court in North County.

On either May 7 or May 8, 2009 Daniel Schmitz is alleged to have fallen at his residence and was unable to get off the floor, use the emergency alert cord in his residence, or notify a staff member of his need for assistance.

As a result, Schmitz laid on his backside for two or three days before Hidden Lake security found the elderly man on the floor after being alerted by Jack Schmitz and his sister, who had become concerned after not being able to reach their father.

Daniel Schmitz was taken to Christian Northeast Hospital; he had been injured in the fall.

Jack Schmitz and his sister claimed that Lutheran Senior Services failed to provide proper care; did not notice that Schmitz hadn’t signed up for meals; did not provide an emergency call system; and didn’t provide adequate training to its housekeeping staff to ensure Schmitz’s emergency alert cord was accessible to him.

All of these alleged failures are claimed by the siblings to have been supposedly addressed in a independent living resident handbook produced by the agency for The Gables at Hidden Lake residents and family.

David Zevan and Stephen C. Buser are representing Schmitz and James while Lawrence R. Smith and Stephen J. Fields are representing Lutheran Senior Services.

Former Flo Valley manager of ‘Gateway to College’ claims employment discrimination:

Former St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley “Gateway to College” program manager Angela Brooks is seeking more than $1.3 million for physical, mental, and emotional anguish and injury she claims was caused by her termination.

Brooks is claiming in court documents that her firing was directly related to an evaluation she conducted of her then subordinate and the present (according to Linkedin) St. Louis Community College Gateway to College director Wendell Covington.

The Gateway to College program is designed for young adults ages 16 to 20 who did not complete high school. It enables them to earn a high school diploma while simultaneously earning college credit toward an associate degree or certificate, and pays for student maintenance fees and books.

According to court documents Brooks claims to have been given five “highly effective” and four “meets requirements” ratings on her annual performance evaluation in May 2009.

Brooks conducted the annual evaluation of Covington on June 5, 2009, during which she claims to have been threatened and harassed by him.

On June 8, 2009, Brooks then claims to have contacted her immediate supervisor, academic affairs vice president Sarah F. Perkins, and Roy Shaneberger, from human resources/employee labor relations, to advise that she was threatened and harassed by Covington and that she was concerned for her safety.

Brooks went to campus president Marcia Pfeiffer’s office on June 9, 2009, and filed a complaint with campus police chief Robert Stewart.

On June 11, 2009, Brooks was re-evaluated and her previous (May 2009) five “highly effective” performance ratings were changed to “needs improvement.”

Brooks was fired on June 22, 2009, and is being represented by Vincent A. Banks III while Robert John Krehbiel is representing St. Louis Community College. The next scheduled court date is Nov. 7 in St. Louis County judge Maura McShane’s courtroom.


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