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updated: 5/12/2015 6:01 PM

Lutheran Home ordered to pay family of woman found with earful of maggots

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The Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights has been ordered to pay $250,000 to the family of a woman who was found to have 57 maggots crawling in her ear in 2012, a judge has ruled.

Catherine McCann, of Arlington Heights, suffered from severe Alzheimer's and lived at Lutheran Home for the Aged, 800 W. Oakton St., for two years before family members noticed her tugging her ear on Sept. 16, 2012. Doctors, who were called to investigate, found 57 maggots crawling inside.

McCann could not speak but was aware that something was wrong, her family said at the time.

The judgment, issued May 4 by Circuit Court Judge Clare McWilliams, found Lutheran Home for the Aged responsible. She ordered a $200,000 judgment for violating the Nursing Home Care Act and another $50,000 for wrongful death.

McCann's family transferred her to another nursing home where she died in January 2013 at age 90.

The family's attorney, Henry Gruss, said after the maggots were removed, McCann suffered from other health issues, stopped eating and was constantly humming.

"The maggot infestation in her left ear created this geriatric cascade that led to her death," he said.

McCann's husband and daughter live in Arlington Heights while her son lives in Chicago. Gruss said they are pleased with the verdict.

"Justice was served," he said.

Gruss's legal team argued that the bugs found their way into McCann's ear due to an untreated infection. If the nursing home staff had been checking McCann, who was prone to ear infections, and giving her ear drops multiple times a day as they were supposed to, this never would have happened, the lawyers said.

Experts testified that a fly landed in her ear and laid eggs after a recent ear surgery, and that those eggs grew into maggots over the course of several days without being noticed.

Lutheran Home Executive Director Shareen Anderson said she could not comment on the case as a decision on legal fees is still pending.

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