A decision reached within recent years in a nursing home case offers a glimpse into the realm of extensive punitive damages that may be available in nursing home neglect cases.
In the case, a 76 year old woman was place in a nursing home in Florida for rehabilitation. Throughout the course of her stay, the staff and facility reportedly knew that the woman was at risk for falls, but allegedly did not adopt any preventative measures in place in order to protect it from happening.
As a result, the woman reportedly fell within two weeks of being admitted. She suffered head trauma and a fracture to the upper arm. According to the lawsuit, she never fully recovered from the injuries.
Just two months later, the woman’s family moved her from the home. In addition to the issues associated with her fall injuries, she was also reportedly dehydrated, malnourished, and had multiple bedsores. She died just two months later.
According to another report on the case, the punitive damages accounted for $100 million of the total award. The remainder was presumably for her pain and suffering, medical bills, compensatory damages, and potentially an award for her family’s loss of companionship (or a similar sort of claim).
Furthermore, according to the same source, the defendant nursing home in the case is/was the largest private nursing home chain in the country. Thereby the plaintiff “maintained that the evidence clearly reflected a corporate culture in which considerations of expansion were given much more importance than considerations of patient care.” This is the sort of argument that supports the larger punitive award, the evidence that there was some sort of more egregious conduct beyond typical negligence.
There has been subsequent litigation in the case, FUNDAMENTAL LONG TERM v. Estate of Jackson, 110 So. 3d 6, Fla. Dist. Ct. App., 2nd Dist. (2012), on other matters, which state that the woman’s family was actually awarded $110 million in damages.
Florida law differs from Maryland law, and has had a recent string of very large punitive damage awards. However, Maryland law also offers punitive damage awards in cases that evidence malice, reckless disregard for others, and potentially for gross negligence. For example, the plaintiff’s evidence regarding a systematic disregard for patient care is one sort of argument that would support punishing the defendant by awarding greater damages.
If your elderly friend or relative living in a nursing home or assisted living facility within the Maryland or the Washington D.C. has been a victim of suspected neglect, abuse, or medical malpractice, contact the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC immediately. You can reach us by calling (800) 654-1949 or contact us through our website, in order to schedule your initial complimentary consultation.
More Blog Posts:
D.C. Court of Appeals Examines Meaning of Reckless Indifference in Criminal Neglect of Vulnerable Adult Appeal, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published November 25, 2013
D.C. Court of Appeals Affirms “Interests of Justice” Standard in Waiving Notice Requirement in Medical Malpractice Claims, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published November 18, 2013