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The family of a retired Pittsburgh Steelers player who was found dead in a personal care home on Versailles Avenue has sued the facility, alleging negligence.
Samantha Davis of Washington, D.C., filed suit this week in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against New Life Personal Care Home Inc. of McKeesport on behalf of the estate of her father, Samuel R. Davis.
Davis, 75, was found at the bottom of a flight of stairs in the New Life facility on Sept. 10, 2019, about 14 hours after he was reported missing. He was pronounced dead a short time later. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office said Davis died of complications related to heart disease.
A native of Irwin County, Georgia, Davis was known as “The Tight Man” while playing at offensive guard for the Steelers teams that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s.
He retired before the 1980 season and had been in poor health since 1991, when he suffered a severe head injury.
In the years before his death, Davis was legally blind and suffering from memory loss and poor motor skills, according to the lawsuit. He had been diagnosed with dementia in 1994 and had been living at New Life since May 2000, the lawsuit said.
On the day he died, New Life reported Davis missing after he failed to report for breakfast. Davis was discovered at about 8:30 p.m. at the bottom of a private staircase that led to a side exit from the facility.
The lawsuit alleges that New Life was negligent for allowing Davis to live on the second floor of the nursing home, despite his blindness and difficulty walking. Having to negotiate steps left Davis at a significant risk of falling, the lawsuit alleges.
Davis’ family alleges the personal care home should have blocked the stairwell to prevent him from entering it and injuring himself, and further alleges that New Life staff failed to adequately search the facility when he was first reported missing.
The family alleges that Davis could have survived his injuries if New Life had searched the stairwell earlier.
The lawsuit seeks funeral expenses, pain and suffering compensation, and damages under the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act.
In addition to Samantha Davis, who is serving as executor of her father’s estate, four other siblings also are plantiffs. The family is represented by Pittsburgh attorney Alan Perer.
Originally published January 16, 2021.