The Globe Gazette reported the $900,000 verdict against Good Shepherd for the neglect of Maria Savas O’Brien. The jury, which deliberated for about 2½ hours on Friday afternoon and for more than six hours on Monday, determined Good Shepherd was negligent in its care of O’Brien.

The jury also determined the nursing home showed willful and wanton disregard for the rights and safety of another.

Savas O’Brien was at Good Shepherd for 2½ years. She was taken from Good Shepherd to the hospital in late March 2015 and died in early April 2015 at age 84 while in hospice care.

Expert witnesses for the family testified during the nine-day trial that a fall O’Brien had in March 2014 caused a downfall in her health and was preventable. Testimony also was presented alleging possible medication overdoses and staff failure to follow Savas O’Brien’s care plan, and mice in her room that left droppings on her bed, her bedside table and her religious icons.

She weighed 127 pounds when she entered the nursing home and lost 43 pounds while she was there.

O’Brien’s children will receive $150,000 in damages as compensation for her past physical and mental pain and suffering while she was at Good Shepherd. The family also is entitled to $750,000 in punitive damages, according to the jury.

O’Brien’s children — Kristine Christensen, Stephanie Prohaski, Anthony Savas and Theodore Savas —feel vindicated.

She said they did not file the lawsuit “to make a fortune” but to hold Good Shepherd accountable.

“Hopefully nursing homes will remember they are dealing with loved ones’ lives” and treat residents “the way they deserve to be treated,” Prohaski said.

The Globe Gazette reported on the nursing home trial in Iowa involving Good Shepherd nursing home.  Maria O’Brien’s children claim their mother died as the result of Good Shepherd’s negligence.  O’Brien was at Good Shepherd for two and a half years. She was admitted to the hospital in late March 2015 and died in early April 2015.

Byron Arbeit, a licensed nursing home administrator from Florida who now acts as an expert consultant for nursing homes, testified O’Brien developed avoidable conditions such as severe weight loss and skin problems.  Arbeit testified that the facility provided substandard care for Maria.  Good Shepherd did not meet the standard of care for Maria O’Brien that “respected her dignity as a human being,” said Byron Arbeit.  O’Brien also had avoidable falls while she was at Good Shepherd, according to Arbeit.  Steps could have been taken to prevent O’Brien’s numerous falls at Good Shepherd, such as having her in a common area rather than in a room by herself.

Mice in her room left droppings on her bed, her bedside table and her religious icons, he said. Bedbugs were also an issue, according to Arbeit.

During his opening statement, Benjamin Long, one of the attorneys for O’Brien’s family, said she initially was placed at Kentucky Ridge Assisted Living due to a mild case of dementia but went to Good Shepherd so she could recuperate from a broken pelvis after she fell.  O’Brien weighed 127 pounds when she was admitted to Good Shepherd but only weighed 84 pounds when she went to the hospital a few days before her death, Long said.

WREG reported the jury’s verdict compensating the family of a neglected resident at Allenbrooke Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Memphis.  The unanimous jury decided that $30 million was fair and just to compensate the family, and to punish and deter similar conduct in the future.  Of course, the insurance company will attempt to rely on legal technicalities to challenge the jury’s verdict and avoid taking responsibility for the injuries they caused.

Martha Jane Pierce moved into Allenbrooke after her dementia just became too difficult for her family to handle on their own.  Her husband of 60 years soon followed.  She could walk and  didn’t have any skin breakdowns or bed sores.

However, Mrs. Pierce got worse and had to make several trips to and from the hospital for dehydration and malnutrition.  This contributed to the development of a pressure injury or pressure ulcer.  The failure to treat the ulcer or relieve the pressure caused the ulcer to increase in size and depth including reaching all the way to her bone.  The foot ulcer developed an infection because of the facility’s neglect which led to her leg being amputated.   The lawsuit proved that  many of the problems at the nursing home were due to a lack of staffing.

Her family sued the nursing home, its parent company and several other executives a year after her death. Last week, after years of delays, a jury ruled in their favor and returned a verdict with damages worth more than $30 million.

 

 

Newsday and Long Island Business News reported the $28 million settlement between Medford Multicare Center for Living and its owners Mordechai Klein; Susan Aschkenazi; Norman Rausman; and Rausman’s kin, Martin Rausman, Michael Rausman and Henry Rausman, all of Monsey and NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

The owners were accused of paying themselves millions in public funds while slashing costs that negatively affected patient care.  The owners were accused of corporate looting for diverting $60 million of the $280 million in Medicaid funds toward exorbitant salaries, management fees and charitable donations to their family-controlled private foundations since 2003.  The owners also agreed to adopt a host of reforms to improve the quality of care at Medford including to hire an outside operator and a financial monitor to oversee the 320-bed facility for five years.

“Nothing is more important than securing the safety of those in nursing home facilities, yet, as alleged in our complaint, Medford owners continued to line their pockets with millions in public funding while Medford cut staffing, services and supervision, shirking the duty of caring for some of our most vulnerable citizens,” he added.

Medford is the home where a resident died in 2012 after the staff failed to connect the patient to a ventilator and ignored alarms that indicated the patient stopped breathing.  Aurelia Rios, 72, died Oct. 26, 2012, because seven employees failed to do their jobs, and two others attempted to hide the true cause of her death.

“Today we have taken significant steps to ensure residents at Medford receive necessary and proper care, and that the tragic events of 2012 are never repeated,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “This settlement sends a clear message that those who profit from Medicaid at the expense of nursing home residents will be held accountable.”

 

 

 

 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the verdict involving a nursing resident of Providence Care Center. Elma Betty Temple, 86, and her son brought suit four years ago against Providence Care Center, where Ms. Temple fell in November 2011 and suffered broken bones and other serious injuries, according to their claim. The suit said the home was negligent in not supervising her closely enough.

Last month, the jury compensated the resident and her family with a verdict of more than $2 million against the nursing home, and another $250,000 in punitive damages.

KRDO reported the record-setting verdict for the wrongful death and suffering of Sophia Alcon, a resident at Life Care Center of Pueblo. The unanimous jury awarded more than $5.5 million.  The jury awarded $500,000 in damages stemming from the wrongful death of Sophia Alcon, $57,066.43 in economic damages for negligence, and another $5 million in punitive damages for wrongful death.

Sophia, 77, was admitted to Life Care Center of Pueblo on April 30, 2013. While a resident there, she endured several instances of abuse and neglect. According to the family, she had multiple infections, bed sores, unexplained severe bruising covering half of her body, dehydration and malnutrition.  Most of Ms. Alcon’s 10 children were regular visitors at the nursing home, and attested to performing various nursing duties such as giving Ms. Alcon showers when nursing home staff refused to do so.

“She was our mother, she meant everything to us,” Alcon’s daughter Theresa Espinosa said.

The jury also recognized multiple surveys conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which cited Life Care Center of Pueblo for numerous regulatory violations similar to what was reported by Sophia’s family. The jury believed that the facility had serious problems with continuity of care and documentation. A juror further noted that the State of Colorado should be tougher on a facility like Life Care Center of Pueblo that has had repeated violations for the same deficiencies.

See additional information at KRDO.

The Press Democrat reported the million dollar settlement between national for-profit chain Emeritus and the family of Eleanor Buckingham.  Emeritus at Santa Rosa, since renamed Brookdale Fountaingrove, agreed to the payout in the 2013 wrongful death and elder neglect of Eleanor Buckingham.  She developed pressure ulcers while at the facility which were neglected causing infection, sepsis, and her eventual wrongful death.

Her family alleged nursing staff erred in treating a pressure ulcer that developed on her back, withholding proper care until it became infected. Her family alleged the nursing home cut corners by employing people without proper training. It also let profits dictate its treatment decisions, they said.  She died of sepsis after being taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, said attorneys Jeremy Fietz and Sandy Horowitz.

A Bay Area watchdog said the $1 million settlement is significant since damages for simple negligence are capped at $250,000 under state law.

A million dollars is a statement,” said Patricia McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. “It says, we did something wrong.”

The company agreed to waive the usual confidentiality clause — another acknowledgment of fault.

She said her group receives frequent complaints about corporate-owned nursing homes, including those operated by Seattle-based Emeritus and Brookdale.  “They are large, for-profit chains trying to provide healthcare,” she said. “I’m not sure they are capable of doing it.”

Emeritus charged patients about $100,000 a year to stay in the Fountaingrove Parkway facility.  Brookdale bought Emeritus Corporation in 2014 for a reported $1.4 billion in stock. The company owns at least three other facilities in Sonoma County.

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A federal jury has ordered Ron Lusk (who owned the the Quail Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Center facility when horrific abuse occurred but attempted to evade responsibility by selling the nursing homes while litigation was pending) to compensate the family through the money who siphoned away from the facility.  It’s the latest legal battle surrounding a disturbing video showing two nurse’s aides abusing a 96-year-old woman.

The video is still hard to watch for the Mayberry daughters, which shows their 96-year-old mother, Eryetha Mayberry, being abused by nurse’s aides. One aide is seen stuffing a latex glove into Mayberry’s mouth, and the other aide thumps her on the head.

Two families had to go back to court after Lusk refused to pay them after the first round of lawsuits.  Lusk sold the nursing home while the lawsuits were pending, and spent millions on a home and a yacht.  “He took the money, almost $4 million, out of Oklahoma back to Texas, spent it on his mansion, spent it on his yacht, spent it frivolously in all kinds of ways and said he was not personally responsible,” Wes Bledsoe, with A Perfect Cause, said.

 

 

A similar tragedy happened to another Oklahoma family at Lusk’s nursing home. Tim Kingsbury’s mother, who was on a special diet, choked to death eating sausages while in the nursing home’s care.

Several pieces were pulled out of her throat,  and there’s no way someone would not know that was happening. Somebody was mad at my mother, and they were just killing her,” Kingsbury said.

A jury awarded Tim Kingsbury’s family nearly $350,000.  He’s never seen a dime, just like the Mayberrys.  The two families didn’t give up.  They filed a fraudulent transfer action, claiming some of that money should have gone to them.

A federal jury just decided in their favor again and ordered Lusk to pay almost $1.6 million for fraudulently transferring money from his nursing home’s bank accounts to avoid paying two court judgments.   Lusk must use his personal funds to pay the judgments.   Court documents show Lusk sold the nursing home in June 2012, receiving $2.85 million in net proceeds and another $1.14 million from accounts receivable or reimbursements.

 

 Beachwood Pointe Care Center nursing home and its parent company, Provider Services, will pay $1 million to the family of a resident who died due to the facility’s “negligence and recklessness,” including infected pressure ulcers, a judge ruled. A jury in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court awarded Stevens’ estate $560,000 in punitive damages and $440,000 in compensatory damages.

Mary Stevens, a 71-year-old resident, died in 2012 following injuries caused by staff negligence, according to a lawsuit filed by her estate. Stevens also suffered from infected pressure wounds, and sustained “severe” and “fatal” injuries while living at Beachwood Pointe, the lawsuit claims.

According to the lawsuit, the Stevens’ family and physician were never notified of her injuries, and she was “not provided with a safe environment” prior to her death.

 

An Oakland County jury in Detroit held an assisted-living facility liable for the death of a 90-year-old dementia-stricken resident after she swallowed dishwasher detergent left in an unsecured cabinet. The family of Willie Mae Henderson was awarded $5,080,000 — $3 million of which was for conscious pain and suffering in its lawsuit against Watermark Retirement Communities. An Oakland County Circuit Court jury deliberated for less than three hours following a seven-day trial before delivering the verdict, awarding the exact amount that the family’s attorney’s requested.

Lawrence J. Buckfire, co-counsel for the estate, said he was pleased that the jury determined the decedent’s age was not a factor in awarding her estate.  “One of the things you’re always concerned about when doing a case for an elderly resident is somehow the jury is going to discount the value of that person’s life or the loss of that person’s life based upon their age,” said Buckfire.

Willie May Henderson wandered into the kitchen area at The Fountains at Franklin in Southfield. One of the two caregivers on duty was on a break, leaving the other to watch over 17 residents by herself. Based on timesheets, the caregiver stayed out 56 minutes instead of the allotted 30 minutes. A substitute supervisor was not brought in.  Watermark Retirement Communities denied negligence and denied causing significant pain, suffering, fright, shock and disability to Henderson. They also denied an allegation that The Fountains at Franklin, the facility where the incident occurred, was not property staffed or supervised.

Buckfire said the cabinet doors beneath the kitchen sink had easy access, with a magnetic lock on one side and a makeshift wood-stick mechanism designed by the maintenance staff on the other. Unsupervised, Henderson opened the cabinet, opened the bottle of detergent and ingested it.

After being found with her head leaned back and her lips swollen, Henderson was rushed to the hospital. The injuries to her mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach were so severe that she could not undergo surgery and was unable eat or drink. She died 13 days later.

Buckfire said the defense did not admit liability, argued that it took reasonable measures, and asserted that no other residents had gotten into locked cabinets before.

“These facilities usually are very poor at documenting treatment and important events,” he said. “Sometimes that poor documenting hurts them, obviously, because they can’t verify what they did or didn’t do, but it can make it more difficult for us to prove negligence on their part because the documentation is so poor.”

Buckfire said the facility’s lack of written procedures for securing hazardous chemicals made an impression on the jury. And despite the facility’s claim that locks and doors were regularly checked, there were no inspection records, he added.

“The lack of that documentation really hurt the defendant; there was no way they could establish that they did all the things they argued that they did,” Buckfire said.

The facility’s administrator claimed there was a safety policy, he said, but the facility’s national risk manager conceded at trial that there wasn’t one.

In addition, Buckfire said he pointed out inconsistent statements among employees about the cabinet’s condition and how the incident occurred because of it.

“A top right hinge from the cabinet was loose, so they immediately determined that somehow my client, a 90-year-old lady in a wheelchair with dementia, forcibly pried it off with her fingers because there were no tools or utensils in the area,” he said.

Buckfire said that before trial, the defendant asserted that Henderson might not necessarily have been the one damaging the door, “but there was nobody else. It was a locked unit and no one saw any outsiders or anyone else do it.”

To prove that, Buckfire said he used three experts.

Dr. Ljubisa J. Dragovic, a forensic pathologist, testified that if Henderson would have done what the defense asserted, her fingers or fingernails would have had abrasions. The records showed none, Buckfire said.

Harold Josephs, an engineer, inspected the door and hinges and screws. He testified it was highly unlikely that anyone, especially the decedent, could have forced the hinges off the cabinet, and the probable scenario was the doors were not locked or secured.

Michael Brodie, an assisted living expert, testified that a proper caregiver/resident supervision ratio of 2-to-17 was not used during the time of the incident. Brodie also said that fatal-if-swallowed chemicals must be secured so that vulnerable residents cannot gain access.

“[Y]ou must have appropriate locking mechanisms and secondary prevention measures,” Buckfire said. “And at the very least, have a childproof cap on [the detergent]. Here, the container was actually open, making it easier for [Henderson] to consume it.”

“The son in this case visited his mom five to six times a week, and with a life expectancy of two to three years, you’re looking at hundreds of missed visits,” Buckfire said. “And the jury understood how close and devoted he was to his mother, and they had no problem determining his loss was the same as if it were a younger person.”

The jury awarded $2 million for loss of society and companionship.

In arguing damages for conscious pain and suffering, Buckfire said he relied on nursing records taken during Henderson’s 13 days in the hospital. He explained that nursing assessments were performed every four hours, which included pain-scale assessments.

“So rather than have me explain and have [the jury] believe me, I did a summary of the pain-scale assessments,” Buckfire said. “These showed that even after she received morphine or other pain medications, quite often her pain levels were at 8-out-of-10 or 6-out-of-10 and so forth.”

He said that while the defense acknowledged that Henderson’s death was terrible, the defendant tried to minimize the damages by saying a lot of times she was on pain medication or a ventilator and wasn’t conscious.

“So I used the actual nursing notes and objective data to show she did suffer every single day for the remainder of her life,” Buckfire said.

He said he felt confident in asking for $3 million for the resident’s full 13 days of suffering after a pre-trial focus group said it would be comfortable awarding that much.

“My argument to the jury and to the focus group was, this woman suffered the same way a 30-year-old, 50-year-old or 70-year-old would,” he said. “Don’t discount the amount of suffering she went through based on her age.”

In addition, the jury awarded $80,000 for medical and funeral expenses.  “Families put a great deal of trust in these facilities. It is a very difficult and emotional decision for a family to make,” he said.