Nursing home negligence leads to $114 million verdict

Location: Polk County, Florida

Plaintiff: Estate of Juanita Amelia Jackson, by and through Cathy Jackson-Platts f/k/a Catherine Whatley
Defendant: Integrated Health Services at Auburndale, Trans Healthcare and Trans Health Management
Amount: $114 million verdict
Alleged Injuries: Negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful death in a case where a woman suffered a catastrophic fall

Description: The family of Juanita Jackson, a 76-year-old homemaker and mother of four, placed her in nursing home for rehabilitation, expecting that she would regain her strength at IHS of Florida at Auburndale (now known as Auburndale Oaks Healthcare Center) so they could resume caring for her at home. But that was not to be.

The nursing home staff knew when Juanita Jackson was admitted that she was at risk for falls, but they did not put proper preventative measures in place. Within two weeks of her admission, they allowed her to fall. It was a catastrophic injury; Jackson suffered a closed head trauma and fractured her upper arm. She never fully recovered from her injuries and became more dependent on the nursing home staff than ever before.

Moreover, the nursing home was chronically short-staffed with overworked employees. Patients suffered. Juanita Jackson suffered. They didn’t turn her enough or elevate her heels to prevent the development of bedsores. She got multiple bedsores, including at least one that rotted to the bone. They didn’t give her enough to eat and drink, causing her to become malnourished and dehydrated. Juanita was also overmedicated during her stay. She was left to lie in bed so long that she developed contractures, where the muscles shrivel up, making movement even more difficult.

Jackson’s family removed her from the nursing home, but she died a short time later. Blair N. Mendes represented Jackson’s family in the case.

Trans Healthcare, Inc. and Trans Healthcare Management operated the nursing home at the time of Jackson’s residency. During that period, the company also operated more than 200 nursing homes in 22 states and was the largest private nursing home chain in the United States.

The lawsuit was originally filed in July 2004, and after six years of litigation, Trans Healthcare, Inc. and Trans Healthcare Management stopped participating in the lawsuit. The companies admitted liability in the case, and a judgment was entered against them on July 7, 2010. The jury was asked to determine the amount of money in damages.

The final judgment in the case was handed down July 22, 2010, for $110 million. Tampa attorneys handling the case on behalf of the family had to decide between monetary damages for Juanita Jackson’s pain and suffering, or that of her children. They opted for pain and suffering of Juanita Jackson.

The verdict is believed to be one of the largest verdicts ever in Polk County, Florida, and the financial news agency Bloomberg confirmed that it was one of the top 10 jury verdict in the United States at that point in 2010.

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