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Family of woman found dead in marsh considers lawsuit against nursing home

Marie Duddy (Provided)

The family of a woman found dead in the marsh on James Island is considering legal action against the nursing home where she was living.

The news comes just days after the Department of Health and Environmental Control released a report citing major violations at Savannah Place.

“For things to end the way they did, they’re just in shock," attorney Stephan Futerol said Monday. "I wouldn’t say they feel guilty for placing someone in assisted living. It was a difficult choice for them to make."

Futerol said 80-year-old Marie Duddy’s family was aware of some irregularities in her behavior but never expected the gravity of the incidents highlighted in DHEC's report.

“They were astounded by that," he said.

One of the citations against Savannah Place noted the facility’s alarm system wasn’t working the day Duddy wandered off the property.

“If you have an alarm system you’re gonna have a regular routine for maintenance to make sure it’s working and apparently it hadn’t been working for some period of time and corrected only after this incident," Futerol said.

Duddy's body was found two miles from the assisted living facility May 21 -- 28 hours after she was reported missing.

"They weren’t able to keep proper supervision of her and of course we all know the rest and how tragically that all turned out,” he said.

Duddy was known to wander. Futerol said it’s part of the reason she was checked into the facility.

“They had shared with the family there’d been some difficulties and they were trying to manage some of her behaviors and adjust medications but to the extent which we saw things in the DHEC report, the family was unaware,” he said.

Things like wandering to other residents’ rooms, urinating and defecating in the halls, there are at least ten incidents on record at the facility.

"It seems like they fell well short of the mark of maintaining adequate supervision on her day by day," futerol said.

Futerol noted the facility may not be adequately equipped handle the level of illness Duddy displayed. In that case, Futerol said Savannah Place would have been better off turning her away in search of another facility.

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