The Tampa Bay Times reported the $200 million jury verdict in a case where the Defendant was in default. The case stemmed from the 2004 death of Elvira Nunziata, a resident with dementia at Pinellas Park Care and Rehab Center. Her bloody body was found at the bottom of a stairwell after she toppled one story while strapped to a wheelchair. Former aides at the home testified that the door to the stairwell was supposed to be locked, but that staffers often disabled the alarm so they could go smoke. The home had a history of deficiency citations and abuse complaints and the aides said it was frequently understaffed.
The defendant was Trans Health Management Inc., who had sole authority to operate the home at the time, but has since gone defunct. Its parent company, Trans Health, Inc., is in receivership in Maryland. The Tampa law firm of Wilkes & McHugh, which represented Nunziata’s estate, alleged that the true owners were private equity investors who shuffled the assets of Trans Health Management into affiliated entities to avoid liability and then chose not to mount a defense.