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November 25, 2016

Lawsuit filed against Delco nursing home for fire that killed smoker

Courts Lawsuits
federal courthouse Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania at Sixth and Market streets in Philadelphia.

The wife of the man who died of injuries suffered in a fire he set while smoking a cigarette at a Delaware County-owned nursing home are suing the county.

The suit claims the operators of Fair Acres Geriatric Center in Midddletown violated federal nursing home regulations resulting in her husband's death.

The attorney for Mary Rodarmel and her late husband Kenneth Rodarmel, of Norwood, Delaware County, filed the suit earlier this month. It alleges Kenneth Rodarmel, who had been diagnosed with several diseases and required assistance to complete many basic tasks, should not have been allowed to smoke unsupervised the day of the fire.

According to records included included in the lawsuit, Rodarmel was being treated for bipolar disease, Parkinson's Disease and a disease of the blood vessels in the brain. He required assistance to eat, dress and bathe, among other daily functions.

On Feb. 17, 2015, Kenneth Rodarmel had been smoking a cigarette on a balcony when his clothing caught fire, court documents stated. The fire spread, engulfed Rodarmel in flames and he later died of his injuries on March 11, 2015.

A copy of a report from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services stated it is believed the cigarette initially had ignited a clothing protector made of paper and plastic that Rodarmel was still wearing from lunch.

Rodarmel had been smoking on the balcony alone at the time, the lawsuit claims. The flames were noticed by a nurse working in an adjacent room who alerted other staff members that came to Rodarmel's aid.

Court documents also describe an earlier incident in August 2014, when Rodarmel suffered burns to his fingers while smoking. Shortly after that, Rodarmel "became a supervised smoker," according to the Department of Health and Human Services report, but another report in December 2014 stated he could smoke independently.

Mary Rodarmel is seeking more then $150,000 in damages.

Attorneys for Delaware County have not yet filed a response to Mary Rodarmel's complaint.