Experience

Trucking Accident

Location: Polk County, Florida

Plaintiff: Kendra Lymon
Defendant: Bynum Transport, Inc.
Amount: $65 million verdict
Alleged Injuries: Automobile negligence resulting in traumatic head and brain injuries

Description: The plaintiff, 21-year-old Kendra Lymon was driving through the intersection of State Road 17 and State Road 64 when a Bynum Transport, Inc. tractor-trailer approached the intersection of state roads 17 and 64. There was another tractor-trailer in the opposite turn lane, blocking the Bynum Transport Inc. driver’s view. The truck turned left anyway, and he plowed into Kendra’s car on the driver’s side, crushing it and sending it spinning off the highway. The driver claimed he had a green arrow allowing him to make the left hand turn, but eyewitnesses later stated that was false and that the plaintiff had a green light and was not speeding. 

Kendra had no pulse when emergency personnel arrived at the accident scene. The lack of oxygen to her brain caused parts of it to die, and she suffered brain damage. She was in a coma, and hospitalized for months. Today, she needs around-the-clock care and continued rehabilitation, including physical, occupational and speech therapy. Wilkes & McHugh represented the family and worked to ensure Kendra would receive the care she needs for the rest of her life. The verdict was affirmed on appeal.

Disclaimer: The results described on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. A prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results as those described on this website.

Nursing Home Abuse

Location: Hillsborough County, Florida

Plaintiff: Estate of William S. Yarawsky
Defendant: Sovereign Healthcare of Tampa, LLC, et. al.
Amount: $17.25 million verdict
Compensatory Damages: $16.25 million
Punitive Damages: $1 million
Alleged Injuries: Negligence (lethal and non-lethal), breach of fiduciary duty, violations of Florida Statutes, and wrongful death in a case where a man suffered falls and a broken neck in a Tampa nursing home

Description: William Yarawsky was admitted to Bayshore Pointe Nursing and Rehabilitation Center when his family could no longer care for him at home.

Evidence presented at trial showed the nursing home was chronically short-staffed and that employee hours were cut below what was needed to care for the residents.

Despite being at risk for falls, Mr. Yarawsky was left unattended in his wheelchair in a hallway. A state inspection of the facility as a result of a complaint from the family found that at least half of the sampled residents who were at risk for falls did not have the proper precautions in place – clear examples of doctors’ orders that were not being followed.

Mr. Yarawsky suffered numerous falls in the facility, with one resulting in lacerations to the front and back of his head requiring stitches, and another that resulted in a broken neck. He also endured numerous other injuries, many of which were unexplained, during his time at the nursing home.

On the day of his final fall, the nursing home staff did not call Mr. Yarawsky's family or his doctor; they simply returned him to his wheelchair. It wasn’t until when his wife came to visit that she noticed he was in pain. Still, the facility staff delayed sending him to the hospital for several hours. Once there, X-rays confirmed a serious spinal cord injury. He suffered for 10 days before passing away.

Disclaimer: The results described on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. A prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results as those described on this website.

Woman stabbed while shopping at retail store

Location: Pennsylvania

Plaintiff: Tennessee woman
Defendant: Retail store
Amount: Confidential
Alleged Injuries: Negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress after a young woman was attacked and stabbed multiple times by a third party criminal assailant

Description: A young woman and her mother were shopping in a retail store when a third party criminal assailant attacked the young woman, stabbing her with a knife multiple times. She suffered serious and permanent injuries as a result. Wilkes & McHugh represented this woman in an action based on the store’s failure to provide adequate security for its patrons. The matter was confidentially resolved during trial.

Dogged litigation leads to successful recovery for clients despite bankruptcy

Location: Lafayette, Louisiana

Debtor: New Louisiana Holdings, LLC, et al.
Amount: Confidential settlement

Description: Wilkes & McHugh represented families whose loved ones were injured or died while in the care of the Debtors, which operated a nursing home empire spanning multiple states including Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. After extensive negotiations and vigorous participation on the Unsecured Creditors Committee, Wilkes & McHugh successfully negotiated a compromise with the Debtors to secure a recovery for clients who otherwise may have received nothing as unsecured creditors. 

Wife killed, husband injured in Mississippi trucking accident

Location: Desoto County, Mississippi

Plaintiff: A female driver
Defendant: A trucking company and driver
Amount:  Confidential settlement
Alleged Injuries:  Negligence, gross negligence, loss of spousal consortium and wrongful death after a couple was involved in a tractor-trailer crash that left the wife dead and the husband severely injured

Description: A couple married for nearly 60 years were traveling northbound on US 61 on their way to Memphis from a trip to Tunica, Miss., in December of 2014. The wife was driving while her husband was in the passenger seat.

Meanwhile, a tractor-trailer driver traveled on Stateline Road a few miles east of US 61 near Walls, Miss. There is a stop sign at the intersection of Stateline Road and US 61 that required the truck driver to stop his truck and yield the right-of-way to those vehicles traveling north and south on US 61. The driver proceeded to make a grossly negligent left turn at this stop sign. As a result, he blocked the roadway at night with his tractor trailer in a grossly negligent manner.

The married couple had no time to stop and slammed into the back driver’s side portion of the tractor trailer near the tires. The collision killed the wife and severely injured the husband.

The tractor-trailer continued to block US 61, and it did not have on any hazard lights, nor were there any emergency reflective devices placed near the tractor trailer to warn drivers of a stopped commercial vehicle in the roadway. In fact, witnesses recall approaching the cab of the tractor trailer only to find no driver inside the vehicle. Witnesses also state that the driver of the tractor trailer never rendered aid, nor did they ever see him call 911.

The defendants violated numerous Mississippi traffic statutes and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations before, during and after the crash in this case.

Disclaimer: The results described on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. A prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results as those described on this website.

Years of tough litigation leads to multi-million bankruptcy settlement

Location: Tampa, Florida

Debtor: Fundamental Long Term Care, Inc.
Amount: $23.7 million

Description:  Judgment creditors represented by Wilkes & McHugh initiated involuntary Chapter 7 proceedings against Debtor Fundamental Long Term Care, Inc. to recover state court judgments following jury verdicts in excess of $2 billion. A decade of protracted litigation revealed a bust-out scheme involving a dozen real-parties-in-interest that devised a scheme to ditch a liability-ridden shell company by selling it to the Debtor using an elderly strawman. After a two-week trial, the parties reached a multi-million dollar compromise.

Two tractor-trailers involved in crash that injures woman

Location: Crittenden County, Arkansas

Plaintiff: A female motorist
Defendant: A large trucking company
Amount: Confidential settlement 
Alleged Injuries: Negligence and vicarious liability that lead to a multi-vehicle accident and caused a woman severe injuries

Description:  The defendant was driving a tractor-trailer on I-55 in Memphis, Tenn., heading north toward Arkansas. He was in the right lane and tried to move into the left lane when he hit another driver, who then struck the retaining wall. The defendant crossed the bridge and pulled over to the side of the road, while the other driver’s car was disabled in the left lane.

Meanwhile, the victim was traveling that same route in the right lane behind another tractor-trailer.  Both were heading into Arkansas, crossing the Mississippi River on I-55 north.  The victim proceeded to enter the left lane, while the tractor-trailer remained in the right lane of the interstate. Once on the bridge, the victim collided with the disabled car in the left lane. The violent impact caused her to ricochet to the right lane where she struck the tractor-trailer. The victim's Honda spun around and slammed into the retaining wall before skidding back to the right lane.

The victim suffered a fracture to her left femur and underwent surgery to have a metal rod and screws placed in her leg. After surgery, she developed anemia that required a blood transfusion; developed hypoxemia (low blood oxygen); developed a fat emboli, which is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by globules of fat released by the bone that travel to the brain or lungs; became tachycardic and required oxygen for two days; and was placed on heavy narcotics, including Dilaudid and oxycodone, for pain and when that was not sufficient she was given Morphine injections.  She had extensive medical bills and missed six weeks of work.

The defendant driver was negligent, made poor decisions, and started the sequence of events that put the victim and other drivers in danger that day. Arkansas State Police cited the defendant driver for an improper lane change in causing the accident, and a trucking expert determined that the defendant's reckless move was the catalyst for the victim’s crash.

Disclaimer: The results described on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. A prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results as those described on this website.

Poor nursing home care and corporate greed lead to $900 million verdict

Location: Alachua County, Florida

Plaintiff: Joseph Webb, by and through Rose M. Webb
Defendant: Trans Health Inc. and Trans Health Management, Inc.
Amount: $900 million verdict
Compensatory damages: $200 million
Punitive damages: $700 million
Alleged Injuries: Negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in a case where a man needed an amputation because of lack of care

Description: Joseph Webb suffered a stroke and was paralyzed on his left side. He needed 24-hour care, so he turned to University Place Care and Rehabilitation Center for help. They promised to provide everything he needed, including assistance going to the restroom, bathing, changing, eating, and getting around. He was still active after his stroke and would most often sit outside, talking baseball, the Bible and listening to gospel music with his friends. But soon the nursing home would get a new owner and management company. During his last four years at the home, Webb suffered horrific injuries.

Evidence at the trial showed that the nursing home owners devoted more energy to making sure their homes were profitable than to resident care. Instead of having four aides working on each shift, they would have only two. Sometimes just one. And that meant residents would be left to sit in soiled diapers for hours, former staff members testified. Urine and feces would cling to their skin and begin to erode it, as was the case with Joseph Webb. He developed sores that went unattended and got infected. The wounds festered, and gangrene set in. Ultimately, he needed to have his right leg amputated.

He developed complications from the missing limb that led to a severe pressure sore on is coccyx, which also got infected and required surgery to try to repair it. He suffered with that painful wound for the rest of his life.

Wilkes & McHugh attorneys represented Mr. Webb’s wife, Rose Webb, in this case. An Alachua County jury awarded $200 million in compensatory damages for his pain and suffering, and another $700 million in punitive damages against the defendants, Trans Health Inc. and Trans Health Management, Inc. This was a default judgment where the jury had to determine damages only. The companies defended the case for four years before instructing the litigation attorneys to abandon the defense in 2010, and default judgments were entered against them.

Disclaimer: The results described on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. A prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results as those described on this website.

Severe pressure sore, infection lead to death at Philadelphia nursing home

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Plaintiff: Confidential
Defendant: Confidential
Amount: $2.787 million verdict
Compensatory Damages: $2.287 million 
Punitive Damages: $500,000.00 
Alleged Injuries: Negligence, violations of the Pennsylvania Older Adults Protective Services Act, and wrongful death 

Description: During the plaintiff's residency at the nursing home in Philadelphia, he needlessly suffered from a gaping pressure sore that ate away most of his buttocks, multiple infections, contracted limbs, dehydration, malnutrition and ultimately death. 

Disclaimer: The results described on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. A prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results as those described on this website.

Jury awards $200 million verdict in nursing home case

Location: Pinellas County, Florida

Plaintiff: Estate of Elvira Nunziata, by and through Richard Nunziata
Defendant: Trans Health Management, Inc.
Amount: $200 million verdict
Compensatory damages: $60 million
Punitive damages: $140 million
Alleged Injuries: Negligence and wrongful death in a case where a woman was left unattended and fell down concrete steps while strapped in a wheelchair

Description: Elvira Nunziata, was a 92-year-old dementia resident at Pinellas Park Care and Rehab Center who, while still belted in her wheelchair, fell down 10 cement stairs to her death. Three different alarm systems – on her clothing, wheelchair and the “emergency only” exit door to the stairwell – should have been in place and turned on to alert staff to Mrs. Nunziata’s whereabouts. But none protected her from the horrific fall that left her broken and bloody.

The staff knew she was active despite being in a wheelchair and was prone to wandering. Investigations by the Pinellas Park Police Department and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration revealed that she had been seen twice earlier that day trying to get through that same door. A maintenance worker, not the nursing staff, found her at the bottom of the staircase. He later said that after Mrs. Nunziata’s death, the facility spent $5,000 to install magnet locks on all of the doors – a simple fix that could have saved her life if they had bothered to do it sooner.

Prior to her death, Mrs. Nunziata also suffered other falls causing injuries, a scabies infestation, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss and poor hygiene. She also suffered various unexplained injuries, including being pushed into a wall and injuring her hand and arm.

Mrs. Nunziata’s former caregivers were called to testify that the facility was chronically short-staffed and short of the most basic supplies. They complained of these conditions to their supervisors, but no action was ever taken to remedy these problems. Furthermore, caregivers confirmed that during state inspections of the home, the facility would increase staff to give the appearance that they were appropriately staffed at all times. Once the inspectors left, staffing would go back down to dangerously low levels.

The lawsuit was originally filed on Dec. 23, 2005, and the trial began on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. This was a default judgment where the jury had to determine damages only. THMI defended the case for four years before instructing the litigation attorneys to abandon the defense in 2010. Wilkes & McHugh attorneys were able to the jury deliberated for less than an hour before awarding the verdict.  

Disclaimer: The results described on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. A prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results as those described on this website.

Jury awards verdict to family after death of teenager at Florida athletic academy

Location: Manatee County, Florida

Plaintiff: Cristina Chalita-Cisneros, on behalf of the estate of Christian Chalita
Defendant: IMG Academies, Dr. Joseph Soler and nurse Carol Tomlinson
Amount: $1.5 million verdict
Alleged Injuries: Breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful death in a case where an elite sports academy failed to properly screen, assess and evaluate a minor child’s candidacy to enroll and participate in its programs.

Description: A jury found IMG Academies, an internationally-known athletic training facility and school, partially responsible for the death of a 16-year-old student and returned a $1.5 million verdict for his estate. 

Christian Chalita collapsed on a treadmill and died in 2004. His mother, Cristina Chalita-Cisneros, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against IMG Academies, Dr. Joseph Soler and nurse Carol Tomlinson.

Wilkes & McHugh attorneys argued that IMG officials failed to ensure Christian was physically fit enough to endure its rigorous programs, and Soler and Tomlinson failed to properly evaluate him and diagnose his heart condition.

“Had IMGA officials, Dr. Joseph Soler and nurse Carol Yarosz Tomlinson simply fulfilled the basic responsibilities of their positions, Christian Chalita likely still would be alive,” Bennie Lazzara said.

The jury found the defendants 54 percent at fault (18 percent IMG Academies, 18 percent Dr. Joseph Soler, 18 percent Nurse Carol Tomlinson), and found Christian’s mother to be 46 percent at fault.

In an extremely rare occurrence, the jury sent a handwritten note that they had been deeply moved by the facts. They did not want Christian to be forgotten and asked for a scholarship to be setup in Christian’s name.

Disclaimer: The results described on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. A prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results as those described on this website.

Jury slams corporation with $1 billion in punitive damages

Location: Polk County, Florida

Plaintiff: The Estate of Arlene Anne Townsend, by and through Brenda S. Shattuck, personal representative
Defendant: Trans Healthcare, Inc.
Amount: $1.10 billion verdict
Compensatory damages: $110 million
Punitive damages: $1 billion
Alleged Injuries: Negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful death in a case of a woman who suffered falls, fractures and more at a nursing home 

Description: Arlene Anne Townsend was a single mother who became a nurse and devoted the bulk of her life to caring for others. The latter part of her career was spent tending to the needs of nursing home residents. Shortly after she retired, she suffered a stroke. She needed 24-hour care, and though it broke her son’s heart to do it, he had to move his mother to a nursing home.

During the time she lived there, Townsend suffered at least 18 falls. The final fall resulted in a hip fracture that went undiagnosed and untreated for a week. She also endured severe infections, including Clostridium difficile and cellulitis, as well as chronic stomach pains with fecal impaction, skin tears, malnutrition, and dehydration before she died.

The nursing home did not have enough employees or supplies to properly care for all of the residents there, especially Arlene Townsend. Wilkes & McHugh attorneys represented her son, and for the trial, the jury had to determine damages only, not liability. It was a case of corporate corruption and misconduct where, though Trans Healthcare, Inc. was the named defendant at trial, the judge subsequently determined that 16 other companies and individuals were jointly and severally responsible for the $1 billion in punitive damages and $110 million in compensatory damages owed to the family of Arlene Townsend. This was the third multi-million verdict Wilkes & McHugh won against the owner of the facility for this egregious behavior.  

Note: This case continues to be litigated in the bankruptcy court for the Middle District of Florida. 

Disclaimer: The results described on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. A prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results as those described on this website.

U.S. Supreme Court upholds judgment in nursing home case

Location: Arkansas

Plaintiff: Margaretha Sauer
Defendant: Advocat, Inc.
Amount: $26.4 Million (final judgment)
Alleged Injuries: Neglect by nursing home leading to medical malpractice, tort of outrage, breach of contract, wrongful death after a woman suffered dehydration, malnutrition bedsores, contractures and infections in a nursing home

Description: The United States Supreme Court allowed the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision on Sauer v. Advocat to stand. The Arkansas Court upheld the judgment while reducing the damages from $78.4 million to $26.4 million. Many believe this decision to be among the largest personal injury judgments left undisturbed by the United States Supreme Court.

Nursing home abuse led to $78.4 million verdict

Location: Mena, Arkansas

Plaintiff: Margaretha Sauer
Defendant: Advocat, Inc., et al
Amount: $78.4 million
Compensatory Damages: $15.4 Million
Punitive Damages: $63 Million
Alleged Injuries: Negligence, medical malpractice, tort of outrage, breach of contract and wrongful death in the case of a woman 

Description: Margaretha Sauer suffered from dehydration and malnutrition while in residence at Rich Mountain Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She was allowed to lie in her own feces for hours. Testimony at trial also showed that the facility was seriously understaffed and residents suffered as a result. Because of the nursing home’s negligence Ms. Sauer eventually went into kidney failure and ultimately died. The jury returned the largest verdict ever reached against an Arkansas nursing home at that time. 

Disclaimer: The results described on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. A prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results as those described on this website.

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