'Slap in the face': Nursing home countersues family who won wrongful death suit

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PORT JEFFERSON STATION -

A family is being countersued by the nursing home that was blamed for the death of their patriarch.

A jury awarded $1 million to the family of wheelchair-bound Salvatore Niosi six years after his choking death at Woodhaven Center of Care in Port Jefferson Station. The jury found that a facility nurse forgot to put in Niosi's dentures and fed him a sandwich, leading him to choke on the food.

Silvia Teixeira, Niosi's daughter, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home after learning from homicide detectives that her father's death was caught on a surveillance camera at the nurse's station.

Niosi's chart specified that he was to be fed only pureed food. But on Dec. 13, 2013, the 82-year-old's nurse fed him a sandwich without reading his chart or putting in his dentures. He died within minutes.

"He deserved better," Teixeira says. She also says it took 20-30 minutes for someone at the facility to call 911.

Woodhaven accepted liability for Niosi's death one week before the case was set to go on trial. But the center is now countersuing the family, claiming they owe the center money for Niosi's stay there.

Teixeira calls the countersuit "a slap in the face" and says, "it's like they're benefiting from his death." She says she hopes her victory in the wrongful death suit leads to better patient care at Woodhaven.

Countersuit mediation is scheduled for next month.

Teixeira says the nurse involved in her father's death no longer works at Woodhaven.

News 12 did not immediately hear back from Woodhaven for comment.

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