Tucson Citizen had an article about a recent jury verdict where a jury awarded a Tucson family $6 million for a death involving an 81-year-old relative who died of a morphine overdose.  Mary Culpepper and two other relatives were awarded $2 million each.  Culpepper sued Manor Care, TMC, a doctor, nurse and pharmacy over the Dec. 8, 2003, death of her mother, Sylvia Culpepper.

She was admitted to TMC on Dec. 2, 2003, suffering from sciatica, a painful nerve condition.
On Dec. 4, 2003, she was prescribed 15 milligrams of morphine twice a day. Two days later, her dosage increased to 30 milligrams, twice a day.   When Culpepper was transferred from TMC to Manor Care, prescription orders contained both dosages.

The Manor Care staff failed to note the discrepancy in the prescriptions and gave her both dosages, both twice a day causing her death.  An autopsy determined that Culpepper died of acute morphine intoxication.

According to the jury’s verdicts, the doctor, nurse and pharmacy weren’t to blame for the death. The nursing home had the ultimate rersponsibility for the medications given to the resident at their facility.

Kathleen Glanville, a writer for The Oregonian, wrote an article about a $900,000 verdict for a resident who was treated ridiculously bad by a nursing home.  The jury ruled that an 86-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease suffered a loss of dignity when Lake Oswego police forced her to the floor of her nursing home and handcuffed her.   The jury awarded more than $900,000 to the family of the late Elvera Stephan for the way she was treated the night of April 13, 2006, at The Pearl at Kruse Way in Lake Oswego.

The jury agreed that Avamere Health Services, the corporate owner of the Alzheimer’s care center, had acted with malice or reckless indifference.  Stephan’s children moved her into the Alzheimer’s care center in early April 2006 after her husband became seriously ill and was hospitalized. Within a few days she became agitated, wandering the nursing home barefoot in her pajamas, confused and, according to her caretakers, dangerously aggressive.

The staff notified a registered nurse in another part of the nursing home, who called the woman’s doctor for guidance. He said Stephan should be taken to the emergency room for evaluation and medication.  The nurse called 9-1-1 to summon an ambulance, and because she told the emergency dispatcher that the patient was extremely aggressive, Lake Oswego police responded as well.

But jurors said she didn’t look dangerous on a surveillance video from the nursing home. She was gesturing with a telephone receiver but didn’t try to hit anyone with it.

Two officers forced the elderly woman to the floor, where they rolled her onto her stomach and handcuffed her hands behind her back. She remained on the floor on her stomach for six minutes until paramedics put her on a stretcher and took her to the hospital, according to Kocher. She returned to The Pearl the next day, when a nurse reported that her wrists were bruised.

A state investigator found the nursing home at fault for failing to assess the woman’s condition and intervene in a timely manner.   Stephan’s son, James, testified that he didn’t learn about what had happened to his mother for six days, when he was told by the relatives of another patient at The Pearl.

The video of the police subduing the woman was played for the jury.   Kocher had asked the jury to award Stephan’s family $1 million to send a message to corporations that care for Oregon’s elderly and vulnerable.

The jury agreed on $4,200 in economic damages — the cost of Stephan’s shared room for a month — and $400,000 in noneconomic damages. The jury then awarded $500,000 in punitive damages. Under state law, 60 percent of punitive damages go to the state victims assistance fund.

 

Attorney for Amel Trezza asked the jury to compensate for his wrongful death at a nursing home  which occurred on May 31, 2001. The total verdict in the case regarding nursing home negligence amounted to $2,522,232.08. The total monetary figure makes the case the largest nursing home negligence case in Connecticut history.

Amel Trezza died on May 13, 2001 after he was administered the wrong food at the Country Manor Healthcare Center in Prospect.  During 2001, there was a widespread strike amongst nursing home employees stemming from a demand for improved wages and conditions of employment.

A replacement worker made the mistake of serving Mr. Trezza, who was blind, food that was supposed to be for a patient on a regular diet. Mr. Trezza was administered a soft diet, which meant that all of his food was put through a food processor, thus making it easier to swallow.

After serving Mr. Trezza the wrong meal and failing to look at the name card, the replacement nurse moved on to other patients in an adjoining room. Meanwhile, Mr. Trezza began to choke after unknowingly beginning to eat the wrong meal. 

Mr. Trezza was found unconscious after he had already lost a great deal of oxygen to his brain, leaving him with severe brain damage. He was subsequently intubated, which was not according to his wishes, and died 10 days later.

The case of wrongful death was tried in Waterbury Superior Court in the recent weeks. Because Connecticut doesn’t provide the framework for punitive damages, according to Atty. D’Amico, the case was settled on the basis of non-economical damages. The state of Connecticut enacted such a system as a detriment to lawsuits against nursing homes.

A couple of weeks ago there was a  nursing home trial over in Tallulah, Louisiana. Tallulah is a small town about 20 miles west of Vicksburg, MS.

After a five-day trial, on Friday, November 2, 2007, a 12-person jury found that the nursing home committed medical malpractice and awarded the plaintiff $250,000 in survival damages and $500,000 in wrongful death damages. The jury also found that the nursing home was negligent in failing to clean Mr. Nelms of his own waste, and awarded the plaintiff an additional $250,000 on that basis.

The lawsuit was styled Everline King, Individually and on behalf of the Estate of Leon Nelms v. Brown Development, Inc. d/b/a Olive Branch Senior Care and D. Brown Enterprises, Inc., Case No. 05-348.

In the two months preceding his nursing home stay, Mr. Nelms lived in his daughter’s home without suffering any significant injuries or complications attributable to his declining health condition. Twenty-six days after entering Olive Branch Senior Care, however, he had to be transferred to a local hospital due to Stage IV infected pressure sores, weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration. He died six days later as a result of his infected pressure sores, one of which was so advanced that it went to the bone and was infected with his own feces. Mr. Nelms was 84 years old at the time of his death.

Resident’s family obtained a $3 million verdict against a regional nursing home operator named Sharo Shirshekan in Missouri.   The case involved pressue ulcers on both heels of the resident.  The feet had to be amputated because of the neglect.  Defendants attempted to blame the resident’s pre-exisiting conditions including peripheral vascular disease.  However, the jury realized that PVD does not cause pressure ulcers, neglect does.

 The jury returned $500,000 in actual damages for pain and suffering in the first stage and then $2.5 million in punitive damages against Mr. Shirshekan and his operating company in the second stage.

Chad Trammel and his team of nursing home lawyers did a great job in a difficult trial.  The multi chain (and infamous) Beverly Enterprises has been found negligent in the death of  resident and ordered to pay $1.4 million in compensatory damages.

After deliberating on Monday, the Ouachita County jury agreed on $875,000 in punitive damages in the case. The company was sued for the April 2005 death of Herman Johnson.

Johnson went into the nursing home March 18, 2005. Two weeks later, he was found unresponsive in his wheelchair in the dining room. Two nurses tried to revive Johnson before an ambulance took him to Ouachita County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. An examination of the body found bed sores and evidence of malnutrition and dehydration–clear signs of serious neglect.

The suit claimed the nursing home was insufficiently staffed to provide adequate care for Johnson. Lawyers for Beverly said Johnson’s condition was due to long-term alcohol abuse and other chronic health problems, including anemia, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney failure. They say Johnson also had a history of refusing to take vitamins and medicine prescribed for him.

The trial began earlier this month, and the jury announced its decision Friday along with the award of compensatory damages. The jury found the defendants also had acted recklessly and had deprived Johnson of his rights as a resident of the home.

Beverly Healthcare is one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains. Over the course of the eight-day trial, the 12-person jury heard testimony from a variety of Beverly representatives, medical experts, and other witnesses. Among the documents displayed during the trial were internal Beverly e-mails referring to the company’s own nursing assistants as “trash” and “misfits” who posed a “hazard” to the residents. According to Beverly’s own officials, the company was not able to retain quality nursing assistants because it refused to raise its wages by $1.00 per hour.

The plaintiffs also introduced evidence showing that the company recently paid its executives $138 million in bonuses. Finally, the jury heard from Beverly Director of Operations David Mills, who took the stand and compared running a nursing home to owning an automobile dealership.

“This jury sent a powerful message to Beverly and all the other nursing-home mega-chains that neglect their residents in order to boost profits,” said Chad Trammell, a partner with Nix, Patterson & Roach and the attorney who represented the plaintiffs. “The people they are abusing are our mothers, our fathers, and our grandparents. These companies have a duty to care for their residents, and that duty is more important than maximizing shareholder return and paying out huge executive bonuses.” 

A $750,000 settlement between a Pennsylvania nursing home and Francis X. Ounan has been approved by a federal judge. Ounan filed suit against nursing home chain Sunrise Senior Living Services, Inc. on January 15, seeking damages for claims of negligence and wrongful death.

Ounan’s mother, Margaret Ounan Boyle, died in November of 2005 from injuries she sustained while wandering from the nursing home. The day after her admission, Boyle fell while wandering from the nursing home, sustaining head injuries. She was found with police assistance and taken to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with bleeding of the brain and died the next morning.

Ounan claims that the nursing home knew at the time of his mother’s admission that her Alzheimer’s made her a high-risk for wandering. Ounan claims that the nursing home was grossly negligent in failing to institute adequate measures to prevent its residents from wandering. Further, he claims, the nursing home failed to formulate a plan to address his mother’s tendency to wander.

Here is an article discussing the recent $54 million verdict in a nursing home neglect case in New Mexico.

Lori Keith was awarded the compensatory and punitive damages against ManorCare Inc., a nursing home corporation out of Toledo, Ohio, for neglecting her mother causing her death.  At the time of her death, Barbara Barber was due to leave the ManorCare Camino Vista facility within a week to stay with family, Keith said. So when a phone call came about Barber’s death, Keith said she knew something was wrong. 

The verdict reached yesterday in Albuquerque includes four million dollars in compensatory damages and 50 million in punitive damages over the 2004 death of 78-year-old Barbara Barber.

The doctor who did the autopsy said Barber died of internal bleeding. The family’s attorneys produced evidence that the bleeding had been going on for several days without response.

Tthe nursing home tried to cover up the death by taking away sheets and other items in the room.

The corporation was responsible for the death, jurors decided, and they said the corporation owed Barber’s family for it.   The company declined to comment on specific details of the litigation.

A Cleveland, Tenn., nursing home company has settled a lawsuit for neglecting its patients and allowing an elderly woman to lie in her own feces for hours at a time after back surgery.

The woman, Betty Mae Hanzel of Hastings, developed an infection in her wound during her stay at the Life Care Center of Elkhorn that required surgery to reopen her incision and drain the infection and fecal matter in the wound.

Terms of the settlement between Hanzel and Life Care Centers of America of Cleveland, Tenn., were not disclosed.  According to the federal lawsuit, the nursing home staff allowed Hanzel to lie in her own feces and urine for extended periods and told Hanzel to get her own water even though she couldn’t get out of bed.

Near the end of her stay at the home, Hanzel discovered a discharge from her surgical incision, but staff did not tell her doctor about the condition.  Later, she developed blood clots in the arteryleading to her lungs and a "super-infection of the bowel," which led to surgery to remove most of her colon. 

Nurses who used to work at the home in west Omaha said the facility was often short on nurses, and some evenings one registered nurse was responsible for 120 patients, according to depositions taken as part of the lawsuit.

Life Care Centers of America owns and manages more than 260 facilities in 28 states _ including retirement communities, assisted-living facilities and nursing homes.

A federal jury awarded $1.75 million to a woman who said her sister lost her dignity in the last days of her life because of unhygienic conditions and improper care at a Charleston nursing home.

Tammy Rectenwald, 44, lived at Meadowbrook Acres on Greenbrier Street from March 1999 until October 2003.

On Oct. 8, 2003, she had chest congestion and other signs of pneumonia, but nursing home staff did not call her family or an ambulance.  When the nursing home called Taylor 12 hours later, she insisted that Rectenwald be sent to the hospital.

Rectenwald died a week later at Saint Francis Hospital, where doctors found evidence that she had been neglected, such as an infected catheter site and dirty nails and skin. 

Taylor sued Harrell Memorial Nursing Home Inc., which owns the nursing home, and Nursing Care Management of America Inc., which manages it. Both companies are based in Ohio. The jury found on April 20 the company failed to provide adequate care for Rectenwald.

The award is West Virginia’s second-highest nursing home verdict. “The only way to punish a facility and make them clean up their act is financially,” he said.