SAN FRANCISCO -- The adult children of a woman found dead in the locked stairwell of a San Francisco hospital 17 days after she went missing from her room have filed a negligence and wrongful death claim against the city.

The claim filed Tuesday alleges that city-run San Francisco General Hospital and the San Francisco Sheriff's Department are liable for the death of 57-year-old Lynne Spalding and seeks unspecified financial damages.

Although California law caps medical malpractice awards at $250,000, Haig Harris, a lawyer representing Spalding's 23-year-old daughter and 19-year-old son, said he brought the claim under a different law that is designed to protect the elderly and disabled from abuse and neglect.

The city has 45 days to accept or reject the claim. Haig says if it is rejected or a settlement can't be reached, he plans to bring a civil lawsuit.