Lawsuit alleges computer error led to woman being fed potentially deadly food

An elderly woman died after her care facility gave her the wrong dinner. And a lawsuit blames the mistake on a computer issue.       

Theresa Rotter, known as “Toots,” was 88-years-old when she died following an Easter Sunday meal in 2013. Rotter had dementia, and was on a diet of pureed food, known as a dysphasia diet.

The woman’s family is suing Ramsey County, which runs the Ramsey County Care Center. According to the lawsuit, a computer system that provides food serving instructions did not work on holidays, so staff gave Rotter hard food: holiday ham and potatoes au gratin.

“Really, [the computer system] doesn’t work on holidays. And they know this. So what they do, they do a work around it. They have a food auditor. But the problem is the food auditor doesn't work on weekends,” Mark Kosieradzki, the attorney for Rotter’s estate, told Fox 9. “If you feed chunked food to a person with dysphasia, you might as well be feeding them rat poison.”

A Minnesota Department of Health investigation determined “neglect occurred” in Rotter’s death. Kosieradzki points to dozens of other citations over the years at Ramsey County Care Center, a Medicaid facility the he argues has a “troubled history.” 

Ten other patients were wrongly given hard food on the same Easter Sunday, according to the lawsuit. The complaint asserts claims of negligence, wrongful death, and civil rights violations. 

“Theresa Rotter’s not coming back. But maybe Theresa Rotter’s death could result in change in the system,” said Kosieradzki of the Kosieradzki Smit Law Firm.

Ramsey County declined to comment given the pending litigation.