The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the recent $700,000 verdict against Normandy Nursing Center after the jury found the facility responsible for the death of a resident who overdosed on morphine he was never prescribed.  William Christopher Jones died in a hospital after being found unresponsive at the Normandy Nursing Center in August 2009.

Toxicology tests showed a lethal level of morphine. It remains unclear how the morphine got into Jones’ system.  Was it negligence or a homicide?  Normandy police investigated Jones’ death but could not file any charges because the nursing home’s morphine supply was accounted for. Obviously, the nursing home’s records are not accurate.

Teresa Bartosiak, a St. Louis attorney for the nursing home at 7301 St. Charles Rock Road, said the damages would be reduced to $350,000 under a Missouri malpractice cap. She said the decision would be appealed despite the fact that the verdict will be cut in half.

 

 

The West Virginia Gazette reported the Court has denied a new trial in an elderly neglect case that resulted in a $91.5 million jury verdict against Heartland of Charleston nursing home’s billion-dollar parent company.  The Court found that the damage award was appropriately scaled to punish Heartland’s corporate owner, HCR Manor Care, for what the judge called a history of intentionally short-staffing nursing homes to maximize profit.  The Court found that short staffing issues arose as the company sought to keep margins high by hiring as few nurses’ aides as possible. Tax forms presented at trial listed more than $4 billion in revenue in 2009, including $75 million in outright profit.

One nursing care staffer, Tara Boweles, testified during the trial that conditions in the home were "horrible," saying: "I wouldn’t put my dog there." She said patients sometimes would lay in their own urine and feces for hours. Staff supervisor Beverly Crawford testified that employees feared getting fired for reporting patient neglect.

Tom Douglas sued Heartland because his 87-year-old mother died of dehydration complications that stemmed from her 19-day stay at the facility in 2009.  The elderly woman suffered head trauma from several falls and was eventually confined to a wheelchair. Experts said during the trial that staffers at the nursing home also failed to provide the woman with basic needs, like food and water, which had been a contributing factor in her death.  She formed sores in her mouth that generated dead tissue that doctors had to scrape away with a scalpel.

"It is our hope that this will set an example," Douglas’ lawyer, Mike Fuller, said of the $90 million verdict. "The community of West Virginia will not accept nursing home residents having to die from dehydration because of a corporation’s failure to provide even a cup of water."

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The Edwardsville Intelligencer reported on the jury verdict against Rosewood Care Center involving a fatal overdose of fentanyl administered to a resident.  The jury’s verdict of $273,607 against Rosewood and in favor of Diana Oberneufemann, executor of the estate of Kathleen Adams, a 66-year-old woman who died shortly after a Rosewood employee negligently placed a second Duragesic narcotic patch without realizing that an earlier patch was still in place.

"The award includes $195,000 for loss of normal life experienced; $50,000 for pain and suffering experienced as a result of the injuries; and $18,607 for medical care, nursing care, treatment and services. There was also an award of $10,000 to Oberneufemann and her sister, Donna Evans, for grief, sorrow and mental suffering."

"As he did during his opening statements, attorney Robert Gregory displayed a picture of a beaming Adams taken six months before her death. While acknowledging that she suffered from osteoporosis when she was admitted to Anderson Hospital “there was nothing wrong with Kathleen Adams when she left Anderson for Rosewood Care Center,” he said. Her only reason for going there was to get short term care to allow her “to get back on her feet and go home.”"

“Far too often, unfortunately, in Madison County jurors are not given credit for the good job that they do,” he said. “They listened to an entire week of testimony and I think they clearly saw that the evidence was that Rosewood was negligent for applying the patch 24 hours prematurely without removing the first one.”

 

The Sacramento Bee reported on the conclusion of the wrongful death and abuse trial against Emeritus Corp.  At the end of the liability phase of the trial, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $3.875 million for Joan Boice’s pain and suffering. That award, however, had been capped at $250,000 by Judge Judy Holzer Hersher under state law that applies to medical malpractice cases. 

The second phase of the trial is the jury hearing evidence related to punitive damages.  The jury decided yes and awarded the family $23,000,000.81.  The 81 cents was for the resident’s age.  A clear rebuke to Defendants harping on her age during the trial.

"It took the panel less than a day of deliberations following two days of testimony to decide what the damages should be in the punitive phase of the trial. The same jury on Monday came back with a finding of liability against Emeritus and found that the Seattle-based corporation acted with malice, oppression and fraud in its treatment of Joan Boice. The woman died in February 2009, three months after she left Emeritus at Emerald Hills in Auburn with bed sores spreading over portions of her body."

Testimony at the trial showed that Emeritus at times had no caregivers on duty during the overnight shift during Boice’s three-month stay at Emerald Hills.
 

 

 

 The jury found the Emeritus Corp. liable for wrongful death and elder abuse in the February 2009 death of Joan Boice.   Caregivers found at least four significant bed sores on her body that her death certificate said contributed to her passing.  The jury awarded the family of Joan Boice $3.875 million for her pain and suffering but that will be capped at $250,000 by state law. The jury also awarded the Boice children another $250,000 for the loss of their mother’s companionship since the date of her Feb. 14, 2009 death.

Jurors also found that Emeritus’ upper-level management acted out of malice, oppression and fraud in the care it provided to Joan Boice for the three months she lived at Emerald Hills from September to December in 2008.

 

The Palm Beach Post reported on the judge’s order denying a new trial for the owners of Lake Worth Manor nursing home.  Last year, the owners were ordered to pay nearly $2 million to the family of a former patient — marking one of the largest jury awards statewide for a wrongful death case involving a nursing home.  In November, after a week-long trial, the case ended with a jury ordering them to pay $1,775,000 to Dahmer’s family and company officials vowing to appeal.

They filed a motion for a new trial with Circuit Judge Robin Rosenberg, but Rosenberg rejected the petition.  Dahmer’s family, meanwhile, has started an online petition at www.chiefwhiteowlwon.com aimed at forging nursing home reform in the state — a goal Dahmer’s widow Patricia said was her chief aim in suing the facility.

 

A Baltimore City jury awarded a record $1.42 Million verdict against the doctor who removed the wrong ovary in a young med student, Nadege Neim.  In June of 2009, Mrs. Neim, who was pregnant at the time, went to see her doctor, Dr. Maureen Muoneke, OB/GYN, to have an ultrasound performed.

The ultrasound revealed that Mrs. Neim had an ovarian mass on her left side. Dr. Muoneke advised her that it was probably benign, but it could grow or rupture to become malignant.  Mrs. Neim went in for another ultrasound. The results revealed that, although her right side was fine, the mass on her left ovary was still there. Dr. Muoneke recommended that Mrs. Neim have the left ovarian mass removed to prevent further complications.

On September 22, 2009, Mrs. Neim was admitted to St. Agnes Hospital to have her left ovarian mass removed.  However, Dr. Muoneke not only failed to remove the left mass but also instead removed her entire right ovary and fallopian tube.  Mrs. Neim returned on October 14 for a post-surgery check-up, and complained of pelvic pain on her right side. Dr. Muoneke reviewed the pathology report with Mrs. Neim; however, she failed to inform her that she had removed the wrong ovary, as well as her right fallopian tube. In the next few days, Mrs. Neim continued to have extreme right-side pelvic pain, and Dr. Muoneke had still not informed her that she removed the wrong ovary.  Mrs. Neim went to the Howard County General Hospital Emergency Department where she learned that Dr. Muoneke not only failed to remove the left mass but also had removed her right ovary and Fallopian tube.

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The Sun Sentinel reported that a Florida jury awarded the family of George Dahmer $1.8 million.  Dahmer was a hit on the professional wrestling circuit from the 1950s to the 1980s, known by his Chief White Owl persona. Dahmer died May 23, 2008 at age 72 as a result of Lake Worth Manor nursing home’s neglect.   Within 63 days, the once-stocky wrestler had lost 32 pounds and the ability to walk or talk. The staff’s neglect caused Dahmer to suffer from painful decubitis ulcers on his heels and tailbone that became infected and caused his death. The family also testified that they were never told about his bedsores, a fall from a wheelchair, the loss of his dentures and other incidents.  The facility is now called Oasis Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Joined by her son, Steve Dahmer, Patricia Dahmer discussed the weeklong trial and the favorable verdict during a news conference with their attorney Joseph Landy. "Justice was served," she said, adding that she hopes the case will be the springboard for new legislation to increase standards and regulations for nursing homes in Florida.

 

 

 

The Hawk-Eye reported that a Des Moines County jury awarded $600,000 in damages to the estate of Gene Bozarth who died while living at the Danville Care Center in 2009.   Danville is owned and operated by Health Care of Iowa.  At the core of the trial was whether the actions of the staff at Danville Care Center provided such inadequate care it caused Bozarth’s death.  In reaching its verdict, the jury found Danville Care Center was "negligent" in its care of Bozarth.

Bozarth fell while living at the nursing home, breaking his neck, wrist and several facial bones. He initially was placed back in his bed at the care center after his fall, but was transferred a few hours later to Great River Medical Center and eventually to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he died of respiratory failure related to the fall.

According to the verdict form, the jury awarded Bozarth’s widow, Mildred, $450,000 in loss of fellowship; $100,000 to the estate of Gene Bozarth for pain and suffering; and $50,000 to the estate for loss of "function of mind and body."

 

Tulsa World reported the settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and with three men who are accused of knowingly making false statements as part of a elaborate nursing home mortgage-refinance scheme. Philip M. Green, Jerry Max Jiles and Virgil M. Harry Jr. agreed to pay more than $5.3 million to resolve allegations that they knowingly made false statements in applications to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for HUD-insured mortgage refinancing for three Oklahoma nursing homes.The United States alleged that the men made false statements regarding the eligible debt of the three nursing homes to get cash from the mortgage refinancings.

"Mortgage lenders and borrowers must deal fairly and honestly when public money is on the line," Stuart F. Delery, acting assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, said in a press release.