Category Archives: Verdicts/settlements

Masonic Homes of Kentucky nursing home and Med Care Pharmacy have agreed to pay nearly $13 million to the estate of a former Judge Dan Schneider who died after he allegedly failed to receive needed antibiotics.  Schneider was admitted to a hospital for an infection and received antibiotics for two weeks before moving to the nursing home in March 2013. Schneider was supposed to receive antibiotics for four more weeks in the nursing home before heading home.  Schneider allegedly never received a single dose of antibiotics while at Masonic Home of Louisville despite staff documenting him receiving the needed antibiotics twice each day.

Schneider was 68 when he died in April 2013, after 24 days at the Louisville campus of the nursing home. Under the terms of the settlement, which was reached on the day before the case was to go to trial, Masonic Homes will pay $11 million to Schneider’s wife and two sons.

Med Care Pharmacy, which was blamed for failing to follow up and ensure Schneider received antibiotics at the nursing home, will pay $1.9 million.

Schneider’s wife, Joann, would not learn of the circumstances of his death until about six weeks later, Gardner added.

“The way the facility failed to provide his medication and its failure to notify the family of what happened presented an insurmountable problem,” Gardner said.

 The nursing home company’s “Care Center” in Louisville has a five-star rating from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “a designation held by less than 10% of nursing homes in the country,” Candler added.

Gardner said Schneider’s family believes the settlement agreement is “respectable to him” and is “glad to bring this litigation to a close.”

“He was a very dear and kind man both on the bench and at home,” Gardner said. “He leaves a wonderful legacy with his wife and two sons.”

McKnight’s reported on a recent appeal of an arbitration decision in favor of the nursing home resident.  I find it funny that the nursing home industry pushes for arbitration because it is “cheaper” “faster” and “will provide closure” but still appeals the arbitrator’s decision!

Villa Huntington Drive Healthcare Center neglected Patricia Porter’s avoidable pressure injury causing her wrongful death.  Her doctor had ordered a low-air mattress to help prevent and heal a severe pressure ulcer. The order was made on July 4, 2012 but the mattress did not arrive until July 12. Caregivers failed to alleviate the pressure by turning and repositioning Porter adequately, and left her sitting in a wheelchair for six hours, further worsening her injuries. She died in November 2012 from a septic sore and urinary infections.

After listening to all the relevant evidence introduced, the arbitrator awarded the resident and her family $1 million.  California’s  arbitration awards can be reviewed by a court in limited circumstances, but the California Court of Appeal, Second District, deemed that the case did not meet those requirements. That’s because AG Arcadia did not identify any unwaivable statutory rights that the $1 million award violated, Bloomberg reported.

An appeals court ruled that an arbitrator did not exceed her authority by awarding the patient damages in excess of the $250,000 cap contained in the state’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, Bloomberg Law reported.

According to court documents, the facility had argued that the arbitrator exceeded her powers by awarding non-economic damages in lump sums, rather than in proportion to each defendant’s percentage of fault. It also contended that the arbitrator failed to make any findings against parent company AG Arcadia and its facilities.

Huntington Drive Health also asserted that the arbitrator was prejudiced in the matter and did not grant the SNF added time to present testimony from treating nurses and its medical expert, according to court documents.

 

A jury has awarded $6 million to the wife of James Romano, a nursing home resident confined to a wheelchair after breaking his hip in a fall at Clove Lakes Health Care and Rehabilitation Center nursing home.  Romano fell out of a wheelchair on April 14, 2011.  Romano had been brought to the facility a week earlier to undergo short-term rehabilitation for a back fracture suffered when he fell at home on April 1, 2011.

He was supposed to remain for about three or four weeks and then be released home in ambulatory condition.  The nursing home failed to supervise and offer assistance which allowed him to fall while attempting to stand up out of the wheelchair.

Romano suffered a left hip fracture, resulting in partial hip-replacement surgery at Staten Island University Hospital on April 15, 2011. He remained at University Hospital until April 26, when he was returned to the nursing home.  Romano stayed there for about three more years, confined to a wheelchair due to the hip fracture, until his death at age 87 on March 22, 2014.

Delores M. Romano, the victim’s wife, sued the nursing home.  She alleged Clove Lakes was negligent in failing to take preventive measures, such as using a seat belt, restraining belt or a table tray, to prevent Romano from falling out of the wheelchair. In addition, she alleged there wasn’t sufficient staff on duty, and Romano wasn’t properly supervised.

“It made the last three years of his life very difficult,” said the lawyer. “It stole time from his wife and family.”

Herbert said the trial began with opening statements on April 11, and the jury reached a unanimous verdict on April 17.

The panel deliberated about two hours before finding in favor of the plaintiffs, he said.

A DeKalb County jury awarded $1.8 million to the estate of a nursing home resident who died as a consequence of hitting her head in a fall from bed as the staff carelessly changed the bed linens while she remained in the bed.  She suffered a brain injury after an aide rolled her off her bed, causing her to fall to the floor and hit her head.  The jury verdict covered the pain and suffering of Christine Mitchell but included no damage award on an accompanying wrongful death claim.

Attorneys for the woman’s son and executor said the verdict revealed that a jury could find value in the suffering of even terminally ill plaintiffs.  Mitchell, who was already in poor health, died a month after the 2015 fall at Grace Healthcare of Tucker.  Grace Healthcare of Tucker is a 136-bed for-profit facility which is part of a Tennessee-based chain that operates more than 30 homes in multiple states.  The home currently has a 1-star rating — the lowest — on the federal government’s “Nursing Home Compare” website. The federal website rates the facility as “much below average” on the three key categories of health inspections, staffing and quality measures.

“One of the interesting things about this kind of case is how a jury would look at her. What is the pain and suffering worth for a woman dropped on her head who probably only had another six months to live?” said Evan Jones of Athens’ Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley.

“The jury answered that very important question: Their pain and suffering does matter,” said Jones, who tried the case with co-counsel Michael Prieto, William Holbert and Jonathan Marigliano of Prieto, Marigliano, Holbert & Prieto, an Atlanta firm.

Jones said his team made a $500,000 offer of settlement on the pain and suffering claim and a similar offer on wrongful death in September, both of which were declined.

McKnight’s had an article on how Eskaton will “work through this” after a jury compensated the family of a former resident $42.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages for neglect that led to her death.  The amount of punitive damages, $35 million, represents more than 10% of nonprofit operator Eskaton’s net worth.

Barbara Lovenstein moved into Eskaton FountainWood Lodge, an assisted living facility in 2012. The resident had an epilepsy diagnosis and had a prescription for the sedative lorazepam (Ativan) that was to be given only when she had “seizure-like activity,” the complaint said.

FountainWood staff members, however, began administering lorazepam to Lovenstein daily as a chemical restraint even after her primary care physician denied their request for a prescription for routine dosage.  As a consequence, Lovenstein choked and was taken to a hospital emergency department, where it was determined that she had aspiration pneumonia, and died April 11, 2012.

The state Department of Social Services, after a 2012 investigation, concluded: “Primary care physician medication orders and communication were not followed.” The state also found that “resident medication [was] not given as prescribed.

“The jury was presented with evidence that Eskaton engaged in this practice not just with Ms. Lovenstein but throughout the memory care unit of its facility because it was dangerously understaffed,” “Eskaton corporate officers were aware of the understaffing, lack of supervision and numerous other systemic failures at the facility but woefully failed to do anything about it.”

 

Kathleen Menard is the six million dollar woman. Menard was a resident of the Harbor Place assisted living facility in Port St. Lucie.

In July 2017 Menard fell while walking without assistance or supervision outside the facility.  The facility had given her a safety pendant, where if she falls, she can press the pendant to get help and the staff were to come out and help. But there was one big problem: the staff never told her the pendant didn’t work outside.

A visitor found Menard unconscious. It is unclear how long she was lying on the ground.  She had suffered burns in the extreme heat and fatal heatstroke. She died 87 days later.

Menard’s family sued Port St. Lucie Retirement Investors. A jury compensated her and her family with a six million dollar verdict after winning a wrongful death lawsuit.

“I’m hoping legislation will change and it’ll also change for other people so nobody ever has to go through this. This is the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life and I will never, ever live it down,” said Menard’s daughter.

 

 

A jury awarded more than $37 million in damages to a woman who filed a lawsuit against George D. Houser, a former nursing home operator.  Houser was sued by Loretta Terhune because her father, Morris Ellison, was neglected and died in Moran Lake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  Ellison was placed in Moran Lake after being treated for a blood clot in his leg. Terhune said he was never supposed to be there more than a few months.

According to testimony by a medical expert, when Ellison died he was dehydrated, malnourished and his hip had been broken for 10 days.

Christie Fuqua, former director of nursing for Moran Lake, testified that at the time the facility ran low on food supplies, didn’t have hot water and patients slept in broken beds next to walls smeared with fecal matter.  Fuqua also testified that often staff paychecks would bounce, and it became chaotic on payday when staff members left the facility in a mad dash to get checks cashed before they could be declined. Fuqua cried on the stand as she described what it felt like when she heard that the patients had been removed from the facility after it was ordered to be closed in 2007.

Terhune told the jury that her father was all the family she had, and the two of them had a close relationship ever since he adopted her when she was just a year old.

“We loved to eat and play cards together. He spoiled me. We never went one day without talking,” Terhune said.

Steve Lowry, an attorney assisting the lead plaintiff’s attorney in the case, said Houser’s argument that Ellison was old and had a limited lifespan does not negate the fact that the plaintiff has suffered from the loss of her father.

We are not the sum of what we earn,” Lowry said. “Our value is the time we spend with our family, playing cards, going out to dinner. We can not judge (Ellison) based on what his earning potential was.

The jury found that Houser’s actions caused harm to Ellison. The jury also ruled that Houser violated fair business practices and misused funds intended for patient care.  It took just two hours for the jury to reach the verdict, and Terhune was awarded more than $37 million in punitive damages, pain and suffering and medical expense recovery.

 

Almost six years ago, nursing home resident Bertha Davis fell and was injured at the Pensacola Health Care Facility. The fall caused a blood vessel to burst and blood to begin pooling in a portion of her brain. As a consequence, Bertha dies 4 days later.  Her three children filed a civil lawsuit against the nursing home’s parent company, SV/Jupiter Properties Inc., doing business as the Pensacola Health Care Facility, and its management company, S/V Home Office Inc.

Recently, a jury returned a verdict ruling that not only did the fall ultimately kill Davis, but that the nursing home was negligent in its care and allowed the fall to occur. The jury also awarded a total of $200,000 to Davis’ children.  It took a long time but justice was done.

 Attorney Samuel Bearman represented the estate of Bertha Davis.

“I think the jury’s ruling was that the nursing home had not done everything that it could have done — and that should have done — to prevent Ms. Davis from falling,” Bearman said. “The nursing home failed to follow its own care plan, designed to prevent Ms. Davis from falling.”

SavaSeniorCare LLC, the owner and operator of Cheyenne Healthcare Center recently week settled a 2018 lawsuit against the national for-profit chain for neglect and negligent services provided to a resident that led to his significant injuries.  Daryl Farrington filed the lawsuit in February 2018, claiming he suffered multiple injuries during a three-month stretch in 2015 due to an inadequate level of care and planning by the staff. Cheyenne Healthcare Center is run by SavaSeniorCare LLC, which operates about 200 facilities across 20 states and is one of the largest assisted-living providers in the country.

According to the lawsuit, Farrington suffered multiple falls that resulted from a lack of trained staff, and the facility not developing a comprehensive care plan that met his medical and physical needs. The lawsuit also claimed the facility failed multiple times to notify Farrington’s family of his falls that resulted in injuries and other medical issues that developed during his stay.  The facility was not properly staffed according to many witnesses.

The staff at Cheyenne Healthcare Center even had Farrington allegedly mark his own psychiatric medication consent forms with an “X,” despite him not being competent to make those decisions.  SavaSeniorCare’s defense was to blame the resident.

Evergreen Health and Rehabilitation Center and its parent company Pinnacle Services Inc. have finally accepted responsibility and settled for $300,000 with the family of Edna Marie Bunting who died two months after being admitted to the nursing home. Bunting developed painful and disgusting pressure injuries when she was not turned and re-positioned enough to offload the pressure to her skin.  Proper offloading prevents the vast majority of pressure injuries.

In a lawsuit filed in January 2018, attorney Jeffrey J. Downey wrote that Evergreen staff “recklessly disregarded” Bunting’s safety by knowingly under-staffing the facility based on the foreseeable needs of the residents.

The state Department of Health in 2016 cited the facility for several violations including failing to prevent and properly treat bed sores.

Downey said last week that nursing home patients are at greater risk under the Trump administration because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has underfunded state health departments, including Virginia’s, and decreased enforcement.

In addition to reducing fines, Downey said the Department of Justice has reduced prosecutions of nursing homes for Medicare fraud.

“The combined effect of those two regulatory changes has basically given nursing homes, in a lot of ways, a green light to go back to their practices of understaffing for profit,” he said.

Attorney Robert J. Zelnick, who represented Evergreen, didn’t return a call last week.