Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Suit Filed Seeking Return of Mobility

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Suit Filed Seeking Return of Mobility

Article excerpt

WHEELCHAIR DISPUTE

BRADENTON -- Attorneys for Gina Ruiz, the 30-year-old quadriplegic who is battling Consulate Health Care for the return of her electric wheelchair, filed suit Monday against the Bradenton nursing home.

"We filed the case because the nursing home refused to give Gina her motorized wheelchair back," said Elizabeth Boyle, a longtime legal aid attorney now in private practice who has represented Ruiz for years.

Neither Consulate Health Care administrator Steve Oelfke nor Jennifer Trapp, the nursing home chain's corporate spokeswoman, returned calls seeking comment about the lawsuit.

Oelfke is a named defendant in the suit.

In her suit, Boyle said she is asking for an injunction to order the nursing home to allow Ruiz unrestricted use of her wheelchair. She also claims the defendants' actions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as other federal regulations protecting nursing home residents.

The suit came just hours after Oelfke, the Consulate's director of nursing and two other officials met with Ruiz in her room, trying to persuade her to agree to "restricted" use of the wheelchair, Boyle said.

"She should have real freedom, the ability to go shopping at nearby stores, have dinner with friends, go to a park with her daughter," Boyle said.

Ruiz's refusal, Boyle said, was unexpected, because she has been isolated for

Oelfke is a named defendant in the suit.

In her suit, Boyle said she is asking for an injunction to order the nursing home to allow Ruiz unrestricted use of her wheelchair. She also claims the defendants' actions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as other federal regulations protecting nursing home residents.

The suit came just hours after Oelfke, the Consulate's director of nursing and two other officials met with Ruiz in her room, trying to persuade her to agree to "restricted" use of the wheelchair, Boyle said. …

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