AG settles with family of man beaten to death at vets home

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of a man who died after a brutal assault at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans will receive $544,000 after settling a lawsuit with the state of Michigan.

In April 2012, 84-year-old WWII veteran Andrew Ball was beaten to death by a fellow resident of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

In the years since, the man who assaulted Ball, Ball’s wife and daughter have all died while waiting for some measure of compensation.

“Frankly, Mr. Ball is one of our veterans of World War II overseas – he deserved better,” attorney Peter Smit told 24 Hour News 8 in February.

Ball spent WWII fighting Nazis in Belgium and France. After the war, he lived in the Lansing area with his wife Elaine and their children after retiring from General Motors.

Age led to dementia in 2011, which made Ball’s family look for a place he would be comfortable in and taken care of. Ball wanted to be with fellow veterans and his family believed the Grand Rapids home was the best place for him.

He was placed in a secure unit at the home, but reportedly still would wander from his room and try to get into occupied beds in other rooms.

According to the lawsuit filed by his family, he had been previously assaulted by an 86-year-old man described by staff as territorial.

On April 13, 2012, Ball wandered into the room, allegedly tried to crawl into the other man’s bed and was then found bloodied on the floor.

The 86-year-old admitted to the assault which was ruled a homicide by a medical examiner, but the Kent County Prosecutor declined to file charges.

After the assault, staff at the home did not send Ball to a hospital despite his injuries, according to a report from the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

The staff decided that night that a “do not resuscitate” order filed by the family meant no measures should be taken to save him, according to state records. Staff showered the injured man and put him to bed.

“Following the incident, his face is barely recognizable for the bruising,” Smit said.

The next morning, the doctor at the home sent Ball to Metro Health Hospital where he died a few days later. Ball’s family filed a lawsuit saying the home failed to protect Ball.

The State Attorney General’s Office defended the case, sending it to the Court of Appeals before finally settling the case late this week.

Since both Ball’s wife and the daughter, the original executor of his estate died, the settlement will be split between his other daughter and his grandchildren. The state will also cover $281,000 in court costs and attorney fees.

In the settlement, the state admits wrongful death that caused Ball pain and suffering.

In a statement through Smit, Ball’s family said it is their “hope and prayer that this will bring a greater focus on the care of our nation’s veterans who deserve no less than the very best and save other families from this kind of tragedy in the future.”