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Colorado woman, 97, froze to death outside assisted-living center after banging on doors, lawsuit alleges

A Colorado assisted-living facility is facing a wrongful death lawsuit after Mary Jo Staub, 97, is alleged to have “froze to death” outside of it in February 2022.

A Colorado family is suing an assisted-living facility alleging their 97-year-old loved one "froze to death" outside of her building last year despite being seen on surveillance footage "banging on the glass panes of the French doors located directly adjacent to the nurses’ station for help." 

The wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of Mary Jo Staub says the "beloved mother and grandmother" became trapped outside the Balfour at Lavender Farms facility in Louisville in frigid temperatures around 12:40 a.m. on Feb. 26, 2022, but nobody working there found her body until more than five hours later. 

"Assisted living facilities are supposed to provide protective oversight for our elderly loved ones," Elizabeth Hart, an attorney representing Staub’s family, told Fox News Digital in a statement. "The Staub family wants to ensure this doesn’t happen to any other member of this vulnerable population." 

Balfour Senior Living did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital. The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial. 


The filing states that in 2019, Staub became "unable to live independently" and that her care needs at Balfour at Lavender Farms – located near Boulder – increased over time. 

The day before her death, Staub was observed by a staff member there as being "confused and hallucinating" and needed reassurance from them to make sure nobody was inside her apartment, where she had claimed she had seen people "hissing" at her, according to the lawsuit. 

"Sometime before 12:40 a.m. on February 26, 2022, Mary Jo wandered outside the Lavender Farms facility with the assistance of her walker and was immediately locked out," the lawsuit stated. "The temperature was well below freezing. She was locked outside wearing only pajamas, a robe, boots, and gloves. 


"Once locked out, Mary Jo tried to walk around the northwest side of the building toward the nurses’ station for help. Using her walker, she trudged through the snow and climbed a snow mound," the lawsuit added. "At some point, she abandoned her walker and injured her ankle. She continued, crawling on her hands and knees 75 feet to the exit immediately adjacent to the nurses’ station. She left a blood trail in the snow marking her path of travel." 

The lawsuit alleges that Staub "could have been seen by anyone walking inside the facility near or past the glass-paned French doors adjacent to the vacant nurses’ station," but nobody was in that area "between 12:18 a.m. and 5:51 a.m." and "no one at Lavender Farms was monitoring the security cameras that night." 

The filing says Staub collapsed on the freezing concrete around 1:40 a.m. and that her body moved "slightly while laid down over the next four hours" until it "went still." 

Temperatures in Louisville during that time were observed to be around 15 degrees. 

Following the death, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment investigated the property and issued eight citations, according to CBS News Colorado. 

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic event that never should have happened. As soon as we were notified, we sent experts to the facility to investigate what occurred and ensure the safety of other residents," Elaine McManis, the director of its Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services Division, told the station. "Where we found deficiencies, we required the facility to quickly make changes, and closely monitored the facility until it completed all corrective actions." 

The department, when asked this week by Fox News Digital what those "corrective actions" were, did not respond.

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