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Family sues nursing home over death

Nurse Brian K. Rosenfeld, who pleaded guilty in April to murdering three Pinellas County nursing home patients, has spawned another lawsuit filed by the family of one of his victims.

Robert and Joyce DeRemer sued Sunshine Village Nursing Home on Monday, asking for punitive damages in the 1987 poisoning of their aunt, Hazel DeRemer.

Rosenfeld was suspected of killing as many as 30 patients during the 10 years he bounced from nursing home to nursing home. His past unraveled in 1990, when aides saw him pouring a tranquilizer called Mellaril down the feeding tube of Muriel Watts, a comatose widow at Rosedale Manor.

Rosenfeld admitting killing DeRemer, Watts and another Rosedale resident, Alphonse Silva, by administering lethal doses of Mellaril. Rosedale recently settled lawsuits with the estates of Watts and Silva. The terms of those settlements were confidential, but a team of arbitrators had recommended combined judgments of more than $2-million.

In the DeRemer suit, the relatives allege that Sunshine was negligent in hiring Rosenfeld, because he was "notorious throughout Pinellas County nursing home circles for his abusive behavior toward patients."

Sunshine "failed to properly investigate or otherwise verify Rosenfeld's background, criminal record, propensities," the suit alleges. Sunshine officials did not return a telephone call.

Rosenfeld is serving a life sentence.