Disabled Man Gains Settlement For Fall

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

By Michelle Vellucci
Poughkeepsie Journal

A resident of Greystone House in Wappingers Falls who was injured in a fall from a third-floor window in 1989 has received a $1.5 million settlement. Attorneys for Greystone Programs Inc. and Wappinger resident Kenneth Launzinger, 36, reached the settlement after three days of testimony in a civil trial last week, according to Elliot Tetenbaum, Launzinger's lawyer.
Tetenbaum was trying to prove that Greystone was negligent, which allowed Launzinger's accident to happen. But Greystone CEO Ronni Blumenthal said that wasn't the case, adding that even Launzinger's mother still believes Greystone provides the best care for her son. "No one will ever know what happened that day - whether he fell or jumped," Blumenthal said. "We don't have any interest... in showcasing someone who has a disability who had an unfortunate incident."

Launzinger, who was 27 at the time of the fall, was placed in Greystone because he suffered from cerebral palsy and deafness, had an IQ of 63 and a mental age of 8, Tetenbaum said. He had been in and out of facilities for the developmentally disabled since he was 5 years old.

Testimony: Supervision needed

Launzinger also was prone to self-abusive behavior, and a psychiatrist had recommended he be kept under continuous supervision, Tetenbaum said. But according to testimony, Launzinger was alone in his room with the door closed on the day of the incident. As a result of the fall, Launzinger suffered a broken back and other injuries, Tetenbaum said. Doctors say he will be confined to a wheelchair for several years.

A special trust fund will be set up to ensure that the $1.5 million is used only for Launzinger's care.

Tetenbaum said he hopes the settlement will send a message to all care facilities. "It's important that these facilities keep vigilant," he said. "When someone says 'continuous supervision,' there should be continuous supervision." Blumenthal said that Launzinger has remained at Greystone since the incident - at the request of his mother - but officials are seeking alternate housing for him.

"The mother has stated repeatedly that she believes Greystone is the best and most capable facility to care for her son," Blumenthal said. "I never really understood why she would want to continue our service if she was dissatisfied." Blumenthal said Launzinger's level of ability-he now has a 93 IQ - is no longer compatible with Greystone. "Most of our guys are moderately or severely retarded," she said. "We really don't feel it's the best place for him."

* Reprinted with permission of The Poughkeepsie Journal

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.