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.

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