Nursing homes are tasked with a great responsibility: the care and treatment of those who can least care for themselves, usually the disabled or the elderly. While most facilities undertake this task with the utmost care, some fall short of providing even a basic level of care. That is what two juries, one in Florida and one in West Virginia, concluded as they handed down massive damages awards against nursing homes whose negligent care hastened the deaths of a pair of patients.
In Charleston, West Virginia, Dorothy Douglas stayed at the Heartland of Charleston nursing home for three weeks in 2009. By the time Douglas’s son moved her to another nursing home, she had lost 15 pounds and was near death from dehydration. She passed away shortly thereafter.
Lawyers for Douglas’s son argued at trial that the facility prioritized maximizing patient numbers while minimizing the number of staff, which led to the negligent level of care that ultimately killed Dorothy. A Kanawha County jury agreed, and handed down a $91.5 million judgment. Of that amount, $80 million constituted punitive damages. Earlier this year, a Kanawha County judge rejected the nursing home’s request for a new trial.
In Auburndale, Florida, Arlene Townsend resided at the Auburndale Oaks Healthcare Center from the time she suffered a stroke in 2004 until her death in 2007. During that time, she fell 17 times due to insufficient supervision, which contributed to her death at age 69, according to her family. This summer, a Polk County jury awarded Townsend’s son $110 million in compensatory damages and $1 billion in punitive damages. An attorney for the son, Bennie Lazzara Jr., stated that the enormous damages amount constituted the jury’s sending a message that such extreme negligence would not be tolerated, according to theledger.com.
Note that, in both cases, the jury awarded a punitive damages award in the range of eight to nine times the amount of compensatory damages. By issuing these large awards, the civil legal system can both punish the wrongdoer and seek to deter it and other entities from engaging in similar conduct in the future. Indeed, Kanawha County Judge Paul Zakaib Jr., in denying the nursing home’s request for a new trial in the West Virginia case, expressly stated that, “This verdict sends a clear ‘deterrence’ message to a multi-billion dollar nursing home corporation that its misconduct will not be tolerated in West Virginia.”
Making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is rarely an easy one. When families make this challenging choice, they hope the facility they have selected will provide the highest level of care to their loved one. When nursing homes fail to deliver the necessary level of care, they must be held accountable. If you have a loved one injured by nursing home negligence, contact the Louisiana personal injury attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm. We can help you analyze your case and help you develop a plan to get what you and your loved one deserve and, when necessary, seek the sort of justice that motivates nursing homes to make changes to provide the sort of care every family should expect.
For your confidential consultation contact us online or Phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.
More Blog Posts:
Large Payout for Soft-Tissue Personal Injury Settlement, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, April 27, 2013
Cardone Law Firm Helps Resolve New Orleans Nursing Home Negligence Case, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Feb. 7, 2013