Editor's note: This article was updated on Jan. 6 at 5:45 p.m., adding comments from an attorney, and clarifying the allotment of settlement money.

BENNINGTON — Southwestern Vermont Medical Center has reached a settlement on a wrongful death claim for $275,000.

The motion to allocate wrongful death settlement proceeds was filed in Vermont Superior Court Bennington Civil Unit on Tuesday. The motion has not yet been signed by a judge and will not be official until it is.

In 2013, Jean Prouty, wife and executrix for the estate of Donald E. Prouty Jr., filed a wrongful death claim against Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. The suit accused the hospital of not following its own safety protocols to prevent patients from getting out of bed and falling.

According to the complaint, in August 2011 Donald Prouty went to the hospital complaining of pain caused by recent falls. He had other health issues related to his time in the U.S. Marine Corps and serving in the Vietnam War. The hospital determined Prouty was at a high risk of falling. On Aug. 25, he got out of bed, fell, and became injured as a result. His condition worsened until he had to be airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. where he remained until he died.

The settlement, filed by attorney Timothy Andrews, of the Bennington firm, Barr, Sternberg, Moss, Silver, and Munson, P.C., calls for $91,666 to go to the law firm itself to cover legal fees as per agreed upon with Jean Prouty, another $82,377 for repayment of litigation costs fronted by the firm, for $16,544 to go to the Treasurer of the United States "...as payment of the Government's claim made under the Medical Recovery Act ," and $84,411 to Jean Prouty.


SVMC is represented by attorney John D. Bruce, of Bruce & Kelly, P.C., of Burlington, Mass.

Calls made to Bruce were not returned Wednesday afternoon.

"This was a terrible loss for the Prouty family," said attorney David Silver, lead counsel for the plaintiff. "Don Prouty was a wonderful man who was the center of all their lives. This settlement brings needed closure to Mrs. Prouty, and I can not comment further than that."

Prouty was 56 when he died. He served on the Pownal Select Board for a number of years and was last elected to a three-year term in 2009. His loss was mourned by many, including town officials and employees who knew him for his commitment to the community and to the military. Many credit Prouty with improvements to the town's transfer station, and to working engineers on the Waste Water Treatment Facility project.

— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115.