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Family sues nursing home after man found dead in dumpster

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DETROIT, Mich. – Choosing a nursing home for a family member is a big decision.

Carlas Parker says her family did their research before choosing St. Francis Nursing Center in Detroit to care for her 73-year-old uncle.

Parker says her uncle, Ralph Ford, suffered from cognitive breakdowns, so they chose St. Francis’ because it was supposed to provide a safe and secure facility for residents who tend to wander.

However, the system failed in Ford’s case.

“It was like a nightmare,” Parker told WDIV.

Ford’s body was found in a nearby dumpster on Jan. 18. Family members say they know he was at the facility the day before, and the nursing home didn’t report him as missing until his body was discovered.

“He was supposed to be safe and secure in his bed, not freezing in a dumpster,” she said.

Parker’s attorney has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home, seeking $1 million in damages.

“The powerful symbolic message of being found in a dumpster… that’s where we throw things that are trash,” said Mark Bernstein, Parker’s attorney. “That’s not how we treat other human beings.”

The nursing home did not provide a comment to WDIV.

“The main thing that hurts me and my mother is we truly, truly thought he was going to be safe there. We really did,” she said.