Court Upholds Jury’s Decision to Award Punitive Damages in Nursing Home Case

In most cases alleging Maryland nursing home abuse or neglect, if successful, the plaintiff will receive compensation for the injuries sustained by their loved one. This normally includes the costs of medical expenses, and it may also include an amount for the emotional pain and suffering their loved one endured as a result of the abuse or neglect. In some rare cases, punitive damages may also be appropriate.

CourtroomMost of the various types of damages available to a plaintiff in a Maryland personal injury case are focused on the plaintiff. However, the focus of punitive damages is on the especially egregious behavior of the defendant. Indeed, the purpose of punitive damages is to deter the very kind of behavior the defendant exhibited that led to the case being filed.

Punitive damages in Maryland are rare and require a showing of actual malice. This means that a plaintiff must show that the defendant possessed some kind of ill-will or spite. Thus, punitive damages are usually only appropriate when the defendant is found to have engaged in intentional wrongdoing, rather than merely negligent conduct. A recent case is an example of a situation in which punitive damages were found to be appropriate by a court.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were three sisters who placed their mother in the defendant nursing home facility. Shortly after being placed in the home, the plaintiffs’ mother began to tell the plaintiffs that she was being hurt by staff. They also noticed that despite being “obsessed” with cleanliness, their mother rarely took showers. The plaintiffs decided to install a hidden camera in their mother’s room.

Video evidence presented at trial showed that several of the plaintiffs’ mother’s caretakers were physically and psychologically abusing her. For example, the video showed one nurse slapping the plaintiffs’ mother in the face with a rubber glove while another nurse watched. The nurse then stuffed the rubber glove into the woman’s mouth.

After a jury trial, the plaintiffs were awarded $1.2 million in compensatory damages and another $10,000 in punitive damages. The nursing home appealed the amount of the award, including the award of punitive damages.

In a lengthy and detailed opinion, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict. The court explained that, given the evidence presented at trial, the jury was permitted to make the necessary findings and return the award it did.

Is Your Loved One at Risk?

If you have a loved one in a Maryland nursing home, and you believe that they may be subject to abuse or neglect, your loved one may be entitled to compensation for what they have endured. The Maryland personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience handling a wide range of Maryland nursing home cases, including those involving abuse and neglect. We understand how emotionally difficult these cases can be, and we do everything we can to make the recovery process as smooth as possible. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated and compassionate Maryland personal injury attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Nursing Home Abuse Frequently Goes Unreported, According to Recent Government Report, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published September 21, 2017.

Pre-Trial Discovery in Maryland Nursing Home Cases, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published October 6, 2017.

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