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Man Sues Assisted Living Center For Elder Abuse In 89-Year-Old Mother's Death

LANCASTER (CBS) — A lawsuit was filed Wednesday against a Valencia-area assisted living home alleging the wrongful death of an 89-year-old woman who died after she was left outside in more than 100-degree heat.

The lawsuit, filed by Ronald Corn, seeks unspecified medical expenses, damages and attorney's fees from Sunrise Sterling Canyon Assisted Living of Valencia in the death of his mother, Loretta Hooker.

According to the suit, Hooker, 89, became a resident of the center in July 2007, suffering from dementia, weakness and fragility.

As Hooker's condition progressed, she was transferred to the center's "Reminiscence Program" in April 2010. The new section was designated as a "more secure section of Sunrise designed for Alzheimer's and dementia residents," the suit said.

On August 17, 2011, Corn arrived at Sunrise to find his mother outside on a patio alone, with no shade or supervision. Corn scheduled a meeting with the center's director to address the issue the following week, the suit alleges.

When Corn arrived for the meeting on August 24, he found Hooker "again sitting alone on the concrete patio in the sun. This time however she was unresponsive, drenched with perspiration and in obvious respiratory distress," according to the lawsuit.

Hooker was transported to a local hospital in full cardiac arrest where she later died from heatstroke.

"Her body temperature was 103.3 degrees at the time of her death. The autopsy report attributed her death to environmental heat exposure," the suit stated.

The lawsuit accuses Sunrise Sterling Canyon Assisted Living of elder abuse, negligence, fraud, negligent infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death.

"This case is all about the tragedy that occurs when elder care facilities put profits over their sacred responsibility to do everything possible to protect and enhance the lives of the people entrusted to their care," R. Rex Parris, Corn's attorney, said.

Respresentatives from Sunrise declined to talk about the incident with CBS2, however they did issue the following statement:

"If there is ever an allegation of wrongdoing we take it seriously and react promptly to help ensure  we are providing our residents with the best care possible as we did when this occurred last year."

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