94-Year Old Sexual Assault Victim in Nursing Home Receives $12.5 Million

As Washington D.C. area nursing home lawyers, we have been following a recent lawsuit settlement, where a 94-year resident who lived in a convalescent home in Santa Clarita, California was awarded 12.5 million by a jury in punitive and compensatory damages for enduring nursing home abuse and sexual assault.

According to the lawsuit, Sophie Schwartz, a resident at Oakdale Heights facility who has dementia, was sexually assaulted by Jose Vazquez in her room on December 16, 2007. Vazquez was a dietary aid working at the facility, and was hired by Oakdale Heights Management Corporation, although he was allegedly an illegal immigrant.

The jury ruled that the corporation falsified certain documents relating to employment when hiring Vazquez, and also violated many California state laws that govern the quality of care for dementia residents in nursing homes that can lead to resident neglect, poor supervision, negligent in hiring practices and understaffing.

Vazquez allegedly had keys that gave him access to all of the resident’s room. According to the suit, his background check was not valid before being hired, and he had no training on how to deal with residents who were elderly. Vazquez was admittedly drunk at the time, and he claimed that he and other workers often drank on the job.

Vazquez was convicted for attempted rape and is serving a sentence in prison for eight years.

The jury awarded Schwartz with $12.5 million– $6.5 million in punitive damages, and $6 million in general damages—reportedly one of the largest verdicts ever awarded for emotional trauma without any evidence of personal or physical injury.

Our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers support the rights for Maryland and Washington D.C. residents to receive excellent care in a nursing home environment that improves and maintains the quality of a resident’s mental and physical health, and is free from abuse or sexual assault that could result in injury or wrongful death. Contact us today.

Jury Awards Record Damages to 94-Year Old Woman in Sexual Assault Elder Abuse Case, PR Newswire, March 4, 2010
Elderly Sexual Assault Victim Gets $12.5M in Suit, CBS2.com, March 4, 2010

Related Web Resources:

National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)

Maryland Department of Aging

Contact Information