Jury Demands Nursing Home Pays $28 Million in Punitive Damages for Elder Abuse Case

In a recent nursing home injury blog, our Washington D.C.-based attorneys reported on a current case in Northern California, where a nursing home is being accused of recklessly poor resident care and nursing home negligence, leading to the wrongful death of Frances Tanner, a Stockton native.

On Wednesday of this week, Colonial Healthcare was found guilty of elder abuse, and Tanner’s daughter, Elizabeth Pao was awarded $1.1 million in monetary damages for Tanner’s suffering and pain, after enduring a nursing home fall in 2005 that broke her hip and led to a bedsore that became so infected it reportedly took her life.

Colonial Healthcare, over the course of the two week trial, has been accused of poor care, chronic and extreme understaffing, nursing home corporate greed, and failing to care for Tanner in every way—by allowing her to fall and break her hip, neglecting to record her level of treatment and care, and neglecting to prevent the bed sores that after becoming so infected, lead to her death.

According to the Sacramento Bee, yesterday, in the second phase of the case, the jury panel awarded $28 million in punitive damages for Frances Tanner’s abuse and wrongful death, in an effort to send a message to Horizon West Healthcare and its company leaders to stop the chronic understaffing and substandard care that has lead to nursing home negligence and resident death. The jury reportedly decided on the punitive damages after hearing evidence in court about the finances of the corporation—the corporation is reportedly worth around $200 million. This is said to be the largest elder-abuse award in Sacramento County history.

Colonial has had a reported history of problems with state regulators—this is the fourth case in recent years where the home has been cited in a nursing home resident death.

The Sacramento Bee reports that this is a rare case in which the jury and public could see the inner workings of a nursing home—as the large majority of elder abuse cases are settled out of court.

An advocate from the Foundation Aiding the Elderly claimed that a critical issue facing nursing homes and nursing home residents today is the lack of proper staffing. Carole Herman claimed that this verdict should send a clear message to nursing homes not to put profit before patient care.

In Maryland or the Washington D.C. area, contact Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC for a free consultation.

Jury Orders Auburn Nursing Home Company to Pay $28 Million in Death, Sacramento Bee, May 14, 2010
Jury Returns Million-Dollar Elder Abuse Verdict Against Auburn Nursing Home, The Modesto Bee, May 12, 2010
Auburn Nursing Home Again Under Scrutiny in Civil Trial over Death, Sacramento Bee, May 12, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Foundation Aiding the Elderly, (FATE)

National Center on Elder Abuse, (NCEA)

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