Pennsylvania nursing home assault case leads to $7.5 verdict against facility

Location: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Plaintiff: Estate of Dorothy L. Brace
Defendant: Garden Spot Village, Maple Farm Nursing Center and Glenn A. Hershey
Amount: $7.5 million verdict for compensatory damages. Before the punitive damages phase of the trial could begin, the parties settled the matter for $6,750,000.
Alleged Injuries: Negligence,assault, battery, breach of fiduciary duty, and premises liability in a case where a woman was sexually assaulted in an Akron, Pennsylvania, nursing home.

Description: Dorothy L. Brace was a resident of Maple Farm Nursing Center, which is owned by Defendant Garden Spot Village and located at 604 Oak Street in Akron, Pa.  She suffered from dementia and by 2010, her mental condition deteriorated to the point she was deemed unable to consent to romantic or sexual relationships. She relied on the nursing home staff for her daily care and protection.

Defendant Glenn A. Hershey was already a resident at the nursing home when Garden Spot Village purchased Maple Farm in 2009.  However, Maple Farm was aware that he was a Megan’s Law offender based on an offense he committed in 1994 that required him to register as a sex offender for life. The nursing home Defendants failed to take efforts to ensure the staff, the residents, or the residents’ responsible parties were aware of Glenn Hershey’s history, and defended this position saying no law in Pennsylvania required them to do so.

At trial, Maple Farms and Garden Spot claimed that Defendant Hershey’s January 20, 2013, assault on Dorothy was unforeseeable. However, the department heads at Maple Farm had identified Defendant Hershey as a risk to Dorothy because of her dementia almost three years prior. In February of 2010, with the help of the Lancaster County Office of Aging (OOA), the Defendants initiated a care plan to protect Ms. Brace from sexual abuse. The plan required that Glenn Hershey should have limited contact with her and not be permitted to be alone with her.

One night a nurse aide saw Glenn Hershey leaving Dorothy’s room in the middle of the night. The Nursing Home Defendants delayed more than eight hours in calling the police while they conducted their own internal investigation.  Before the police arrived, the Nursing Home Defendants also covered up evidence.  Fortunately, Glenn Hershey confessed to the police.  In 2014, he was convicted of Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse and is serving eight to 20 years in prison for his crime.

In the trial against the nursing home, the jury found the facility was reckless and failed to protect Ms. Brace. The $7.5 million award was for Dorothy Brace’s pain and suffering.  Significantly, the jury only allocated 15 percent of the fault to Defendant Hershey, and held the nursing home and its parent company accountable for 85 percent of the fault.  Before the punitive damages phase of the trial could begin, the parties settled the matter for $6,750,000.

For more details, read the original press release here.

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.

Senseless death at transitional home

Location: Fulton County, Georgia

Plaintiff: Confidential

Defendants:  Confidential

Amount: Confidential settlement

Alleged Injuries: Wrongful death due to hyperthermia caused by a dysfunctional air conditioning system

Description: A 55-year-old man became a resident of a transitional home located in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, GA. In June of 2015, he was found deceased in his attic room because of an abnormal heart rhythm brought about by prolonged exposure to a hot indoor environment.

The evidence revealed the extreme temperature of the room was caused by a dysfunctional air conditioning system, which the Defendant knew to be in disrepair prior to the plaintiff's death. Despite possessing knowledge of the deficient air conditioning system, the Defendant failed to repair the air conditioning in a timely manner and failed to warn the plaintiff about the dangers of remaining on the premises.

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 more than $28 million in Paducah, Kentucky, nursing home lawsuit

Location: McCracken County, Kentucky

Plaintiff: Sarah Ware, as Guardian of Cecil Gary, an Incapacitated Person
Defendant: Preferred Care Partners Management Group, L.P. et. al,
Amount: $28.55 million verdict
Compensatory Damages: $3,550,000
Punitive Damages: $25,000,000
Alleged Injuries: Negligence and violation of Long Term Care Resident's Rights in a case where a man suffered fractures, dehydration and malnutrition in a Paducah, Kentucky, nursing home.

Description: Cecil Gary, 61, was a resident at McCracken Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 867 McGuire Avenue in Paducah, from July 2012 until February 2014. Mr. Gary needed skilled care after suffering a major stroke that left him paralyzed on one side. He had difficulty swallowing and had already endured a left leg amputation. He relied on the staff at McCracken Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for all of his daily needs.

Instead, subsequent to a Texas conglomerate acquiring the ownership and operations of the nursing home in 2012, Mr. Gary endured multiple hospitalizations, and suffered, among other injuries: a right hip fracture; severe dehydration; and malnutrition. On one occasion the staff refused for hours to send him to the hospital despite the fact he was vomiting and in severe abdominal pain for more than 24 hours. A social services director testified at trial that the facility had an unwritten policy of keeping residents in bed even if they knew the residents should have been transported to the hospital because they didn’t want to lose Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for them.

When Mr. Gary finally got to the hospital, he was in cardiogenic shock, hypovolemic shock, acute renal failure, and they believed he was having an acute heart attack. He was found to be suffering from “profound and severe dehydration,” according to the hospital physician’s notes, and provided more than 28 liters of fluid over one week.

On another occasion, Mr. Gary fell out of bed while a certified nursing assistant was trying to clean him by herself. After the fall, Mr. Gary suffered painful hip and femur fractures. Testimony at trial revealed that nursing home officials lied to the state by not acknowledging any wrongdoing at the time of the fall and stating that the neglect was “unsubstantiated,” yet their internal quality assurance committee verified neglect. 

To learn more, read the original press release here.

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 $2.25 million verdict in case where woman suffered multiple falls, fractures

Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania

Plaintiff: James Temple, Attorney-in-Fact for Elma Temple
Defendant: Providence Care Center 
Amount: $2.25 million verdict
Compensatory Damages: $2 million
Punitive Damages: $250,000
Alleged Injuries: Negligence and corporate negligence in a case where a nursing home resident suffered falls and a fractured pelvis and shoulder

Description: Elma “Betty” Temple was 81 and a resident of Providence Care Center since 2008. In February 2011, her dementia worsened to the point where she was moved to the Memory Impaired Unit (“MIU”), however she remained ambulatory and otherwise physically able for her condition. As such, Betty was without a doubt a fall risk, and care plans confirmed that she needed, at the very least, supervision while ambulating.

Medical records indicated she required one person assistance with ambulation and transfers. Despite this, Betty was documented to have been allowed to walk independently (without any supervision or assistance whatsoever) hundreds of times after she was transferred to the MIU. This reckless lack of supervision is not surprising given the trial testimony about the many union grievances complaining that the nursing home did not have sufficient staff to meet the needs of the residents, including providing appropriate supervision and assistance.

Given the condition of the residents on the MIU, the head of the union requested more staff for that unit, but that request was refused. Not surprisingly, Betty had two fall episodes in the weeks prior to her fall in November of 2011, once while pushing another resident in a wheelchair (unsupervised) and another explained fall event during the night in her room. Despite these falls, Betty’s fall care plan was not updated, and the ongoing problem of Betty being allowed to walk independently was not corrected.

On November 28, 2011, just before noon, Betty was left alone in the dining room without supervision. She got up from where she was sitting, began to walk toward a ramp leading out of the dining area, and fell, fracturing her shoulder and pelvis. While Providence Care Center somehow claims she was being supervised at the time, the first person to see that Betty had fallen was a hospice chaplain who happened to be in the dining room. Incredibly, the chaplain had to alert the nearest staff member that Betty had fallen, as staff was unaware. This was not an isolated occurrence.

Providence was cited for a fall that happened in the same area of the MIU, also resulting from the staff not supervising a resident, only five months prior. Fall logs indicated that other falls had recently occurred in the dining area as well. Betty’s pain was so intense when she fell that she vomited, and staff compounded this pain by moving her to a chair and back to her bed before EMS arrived. The fractures were treated conservatively, and Betty suffered pain and loss of mobility for almost a year. As late as May of 2012, Betty was noted to be complaining of “constant” pain in her shoulder. Betty’s suffering was no doubt exacerbated by her dementia, rendering her unable to remember why she was in such pain, and causing her to suffer anew every time she was conscious.

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