Juanita Jackson became a resident of IHS of Florida, Auburndale, in March 2003 for short term rehabilitation. Her family planned for her to regain her strength so her children could resume caring for her at home. Trans Healthcare Inc. and Trans Healthcare Management operated the nursing home at that time. These companies are part of the corporate maze of sham LLCs that were created by Murray Forman and Leonard Grunstein and others to shield them from accountability. The company is now known as Auburndale Oaks Healthcare Center.
Ms. Jackson was at risk for falls, but the facility did not take proper preventative measures to ensure she would be safe from falls. Within two weeks of her admission, she fell. She suffered a closed head trauma and fractured her upper arm, which she never fully recovered from. Due to short staffing Ms. Jackson didn’t get turned enough and developed numerous pressure ulcers. They didn’t give her enough to eat and drink, causing her to become malnourished and dehydrated. She was also overmedicated during her stay. Ms. Jackson was left to lie in bed so long that she developed contractures, where the muscles shrivel up, making movement even more difficult. Ms Jackson’s family removed her from the nursing home in May 2003, but she died several weeks later.
Suit was filed July 2004. In May 2009, Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend to Add Claim for Punitive Damages was granted. After years of delay and obstruction from the corporate defense lawyers causing unnecessary litigation costs, and days before a Pre-Trial Conference, defense counsel moved to withdraw from the case. In June the Court allowed defense counsel to withdraw. Defendants chose not to hire counsel for trial. The insurance money probably ran out–why else would they abandon the case after defending it for years?
Later, Defendants declined to defend themselves, and accepted default as to liability. The only issue at trial was the amount to compensate the family and punish the corporate owners who mismanaged the facility. The owners have probably bled all the assets out of the companies–where did all the money go?
Lance Reins and Blair Mendes of Wilkes & McHugh tried the matter for two days before a Polk County, Florida jury and presented live testimony from three former employees, the family and a physician expert. The jury entered a $114 million verdict with Trans Health Management, Inc. and Trans Healthcare, Inc. each bearing 50% liability. The Plaintiffs elected damages in accordance with Florida law which reduced the award to $110 million.
The verdict is believed to be the largest awarded by a Polk County jury and followed allegations that Jackson’s treatment at the facility was the cause of her death and that she was injured after falling and then received other injuries from “pressure sores, overmedication, malnourishment, and dehydration,” said The Ledger.