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Family of Ernie Tyler sues Baltimore nursing facility where he died

The family of longtime Orioles umpires attendant Ernie Tyler is suing a Baltimore nursing home, claiming that a doctor at the facility cut off life-sustaining care to Tyler without authorization.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court, alleges that a day after Tyler checked into Genesis ElderCare Long Green Center in February 2011, his attending physician, Kenneth Lindyberg, "terminated necessary medical care, including antibiotics, blood products, medical tests, and medications without Mr. Tyler's permission and without the knowledge or permission of his family."

Tyler, a beloved Orioles figure who once worked 3,769 consecutive home games, died a week later at age 86.

"At the time of admission, Mr. Tyler was not comatose or in a persistent vegetative state," said the family's attorneys, William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr. and Jon Stefanuca, in a statement accompanying the lawsuit. "He was not terminally ill or in an end-stage condition. He was considered a good candidate for rehabilitation therapy."

According to the lawsuit, Tyler was admitted to Sinai Hospital on Jan. 30, 2011, after complaining of "worsening shortness of breath." It says he was discharged to the nursing facility on Feb. 3, 2011, for "acute rehabilitation; not hospice care."

An administrator at the Baltimore nursing facility referred questions about the lawsuit to a spokeswoman at Genesis HealthCare's corporate office in Pennsylvania. The spokeswoman, Jeanne Moore, said she was not aware of the lawsuit and needed time to review it. Calls to a number listed for Lindyberg's Bel Air office were not answered.

"We are hurt that our father was not allowed to live and die as he wished," said Tyler's daughter, Michelle Tyler-Simms, in a statement. "We are deeply hurt that we were not given the opportunity to make sure that he was taken care of. This is not how he wanted to die. He deserved better."

Murphy and Stefanuca said family members were outraged upon learning on Feb. 8, 2011, of the changes to Tyler's care. But they were unable to transfer him to a different facility before his death. The listed cause of death was "complications from a brain tumor" but that point is likely to be disputed as part of the lawsuit, said Stefanuca and Murphy.

Stefanuca said the family has not determined a dollar figure for the damages it will pursue. But he emphasized that medical records indicate Lindyberg knowingly went against the Tylers' wishes.

"The records indicate that Mr. Tyler did not have an advanced directive, and that Dr. Lindyberg knew family members had the sole authority to make decisions about his care," Stefanuca said. "Yet he proceeded to make decisions without their consent."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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