Grandma Tragedy Blamed on Alert1 Pendant

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Though she tried to use her medical-alert system when she fell in her driveway one summer afternoon, an elderly woman sustained fatal burns because the defective device failed to summon help, her daughter claims in court.
     Fernande Rector was “physically unable to get up” after falling onto the hot, black asphalt driveway at her home on July 24, 2013, according to the complaint filed on Wednesday in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
     Mary Underwood says her mother was wearing an Alert1 pendant when she fell, and activated it to signal the “peace-of-mind” medical-alert system maintained by AlertOne Services and ResponseLink.
     Help never came, however, and Rector was not found until the next day, still pressing on the pendant, according to the complaint.
     Rector needed skin grafts to treat the “substantial third-degree burns to her back, right foot, left foot, upper right arm, and upper left arm,” Underwood claims.
     “Unfortunately, decedent experienced respiratory failure and organ shut-down during recovery from her catastrophic burn injuries, and died on August 9, 2013 as a direct result of complications of her thermal injuries.”
     An obituary says Rector, a widow from Moneta, Va., was 82 at the time of her death.
     Underwood, of Roanoke, says her mother’s Alert1 device was fully functional and was properly hooked up to her phone line on the day of her accident, and she was well within range of its signal when she took her fall.
     The device was regularly tested and monitored, and Rector had used it successfully before, the complaint alleges.
     Underwood says Williamsport, Pa.-based AlertOne and Santa Clara, Calif.-based ResponseLink have since “admitted that they had experienced problems and/or difficulties with the Alert1 medical alert system that had been supplied to decedent.”
     The complaint accuses them of being negligent in “knowingly or intentionally failing or refusing” to contact emergency personnel on Rector’s behalf because they “assumed that [Rector’s] use of the system was a false alarm or a false call for assistance.”
     Advertisements for the Alert1 device allegedly said: “We make sure you get the help you need, and we stay on the line with you until that help arrives. With Alert1, you will never be alone.”
     Underwood seeks treble damages for breach of state consumer-protection laws, breach of warranties, gross negligence and wrongful death.
     AlertOne has not returned a call seeking comment.
     Underwood is represented by E. Merritt Lentz of Golkow Hessel.

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