An elderly woman with dementia who died of chest injuries after being pushed by her daughter was not unlawfully killed, a court has ruled.
Luba Limonczenko, 90, who weighed just 7st and could not walk or talk, was pushed three times into her chair by her daughter, Walentina Limon, as she tried to feed her at the Hollins Bank care home on Lytham Road on January 25 last year.
But handing down a verdict of misadventure, coroner Alan Wilson said: “This must be very hard for her to hear.
“She did not intend to cause any injury that would go on to have fatal consequences.”
A few hours after the incident, as they prepared Mrs Limonceznko for bed, care home staff noticed a palm-sized bruise and swelling to her chest, and called 999.
Mrs Limonczenko was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where she died early the next day.
At her inquest at Blackpool Town Hall this week, pathologist Dr Alison Armor said the cause of her death was blunt chest trauma.
She said: “She suffered bruising and four broken ribs. It is clear that the broken ends of her ribs continued to bleed and she was noted to be in a poor condition.
“In my opinion her injuries are consistent with an assault and, though the degree of force is difficult to assess in such an elderly lady, it was significant enough to cause four separate rib fractures.”
Mrs Limonczenko and her husband Ivan, 91, had previously lived with their children Oleg, 67, and Walentina Limon, 66, but had been removed by social services on January 18 after a carer saw Mrs Limon smack her father three times on the back in frustration as she tried to get him to stand up,. the inquest heard.
On the afternoon of January 25, Mrs Limon visited her mother and was trying to feed her when she was heard by Hollins Bank manager Susan Lepori instructing her to ‘sit up’, and was then seen to push her three times before Ms Lepori intervened.
Ms Lepori said: “It’s quite hard to quantify the force she used. There was a little bit of force, not enough that I would call deliberate abuse, but it was not something I would do to an elderly person.”
She likened Mrs Limon’s actions to somebody trying to balance a drunken friend in a pub.
Mrs Limon then asked Ms Lepori: “Do you think she’s going to die tonight, Sue?”
The court heard Mrs Limon had been unhappy about her parents’ removal from the family home on Sixth Avenue, Blackpool, and had raised concerns about her mother’s treatment at Hollins Bank.
She reported that on January 23, another resident at the home, who had dementia, shoved a slice of cake in her mother’s face, then smacked her on the arm when she pushed her away.
She later told police that the other resident had struck her mother in the chest.
However, Dr Armor said that the incident did not contribute to Mrs Limonczenko’s death, as her fatal injuries were just hours old.
Mrs Limon was questioned about her actions towards her mother on January 25 and father on January 18, as well as the fact her version of events changed when quizzed by police, but she declined to answer under her right not to incriminate herself.
A police investigation was carried out following Mrs Limonczenko’s death, and though it was accepted that Mrs Limon had caused her mother’s injuries, no assault had taken place, and she would not be prosecuted.
Handing down a conclusion of death by misadventure, coroner Alan Wilson said: “Ultimately, I am of the view that Luba died as a result of contact made in the chest area from her daughter’s open palm.
“At the time her daughter was clearly unhappy and frustrated about her mother’s health and the fact that she was no longer caring for her. Evidence of that frustration was clear on a number of occasions.
“I am of the view that from an early stage it is likely that her daughter appreciated that her actions had contributed to her mother’s death. This must be very hard for her to hear. The possibility that she may have been injured by another resident on the 23rd appeared to be self-serving and a way of deflecting blame.
“It seems to me clear that Mrs Limonczenko’s daughter intentionally used an open palm to push her mother back in her chair, but she did not intend to cause any injury that would go on to have fatal consequences.”
The cause of death was recorded as blunt chest trauma, contributed to by severe frailty and osteoporosis, a health condition that weakens bones.