Aurora hospital sued for negligence in knife attack

Updated 5/10/2011 7:27 PM
  • Darrell Franklin

    Darrell Franklin

A woman who was attacked with a butter knife while she was sleeping in a hospital bed at Provena Mercy Medical Center in Aurora last August is suing the hospital for negligence, saying the staff failed to keep her safe from a man who was on the property illegally.

Naomi Johnson-Leeth of Aurora filed the lawsuit last week in Kane County court, arguing the staff "allowed an obvious trespasser to enter or remain" at the facility, 1325 N. Highland Ave.

Danielle Thomas McCain, who is Johnson-Leeth's attorney, said tighter security could have prevented or deterred the attack.

"For us, it's on the hospital. You have a vulnerable population of people who can't protect themselves," McCain said. "(My client) is better, but psychologically, she's definitely been traumatized. She's not the same vibrant woman she once was."

Hospital spokeswoman Heather Gates said she could not comment on the suit because it is ongoing litigation.

Darrell Franklin, 40, of the 600 block of South River Street, Aurora, was arrested immediately after the attack and has been held at the Kane County jail on $100,000 bail.

Last December, Franklin was found fit for trial and he is due in court again June 17.

He is charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery to a person over 60 and aggravated battery. If convicted, he could face six to 30 years in prison and probation is not an option.

The Aug. 31 attack left the 78-year-old woman with cuts to the face and shoulders, a broken nose, a fractured eye socket and another broken bone in her face, officials said.

Johnson-Leeth was at Provena for kidney dialysis and was sharing a room with one of Franklin's relatives.

Authorities have said the attack may have happened moments after Franklin learned his son had been killed in an unrelated matter.

The lawsuit accuses Franklin of choking Johnson-Leeth, punching her and cutting her. She seeks more than $50,000 damages from Provena.

The case is set for an initial hearing on July 21.