A wrongful death suit has been filed against a local non-profit organization by the estate of a Warren woman.
In September 2010, Virginia Guiffre, 77, died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall down a flight of stairs at the Sheltered Workshop on the Warren State Hospital grounds.
According to documents filed by Attorney Laurie TeWinkle in the name of Richard Olney as administrator of Guiffre's estate, Guiffre was a volunteer in the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). "On Sept. 10, 2010, Mrs. Guiffre was volunteering on behalf of the RSVP Program and... went to see a patient at Warren State Hospital who was participating in the woodworking program" - the RSVP Toy Shoppe.
According to the Root Cause Analysis fact-finding in the case provided to the Times Observer, Guiffre was going to the Toy Shoppe to present a toy chair she had hand-painted with an angel and two crosses to a patient at the hospital.
To get to the basement of the Sheltered Workshop where the Toy Shoppe was run, volunteers had to pass through a "large metal door" known as the Third Door that "opened directly into the stairwell contrary to the building codes," according to the court filing.
There is an elevator in the building that requires an employee key, according to the fact-finding.
"When Mrs. Guiffre tried to go through the Third Door, it hit her and knocked her down, causing her to fall head first down a set of concrete steps," according to the filing.
The fact-finding states that she was positioning her cane on the first step down and reaching for the handrail when the door struck her from behind. The Toy Shoppe Coordinator was behind Guiffre, carrying the chair.
Guiffre suffered a variety of injuries as a result of the fall, the document states, and died as a result of those injuries on Sept. 14, 2010.
The filing states that the RSVP program had the responsibility to provide safe working environments, including safe "pathways of ingress and egress" to its volunteers.
The RSVP program breached that duty by allowing volunteers, including those who use a cane to walk, to use the Third Door to access the workshop, according to the filing.
As a result, according to the suit, Guiffre "suffered severe physical injuries, pain, suffering, mental anguish, humiliation, loss of life, and medical expenses."
The suit demands a jury trial and seeks to recover compensatory damages and other sums for the estate - "money for medical service and supplies... funeral and estate expenses..." and the benefits "they would have received from Mrs. Guiffre" - in excess of the $50,000 limit of arbitration in Warren County.