Experience

Nursing Home Abuse

Location: Hardin County, Kentucky

Plaintiff: Estate of Lou Vena Jones
Defendant: Elizabethtown Health Facilities, L.P. d/b/a Elizabethtown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, et. al.
Amount: $1.108 million verdict
Alleged Injuries:  Negligence,violations of Long Term Care Resident's Rights, and wrongful death in a case where a woman suffered a fracture, pressure sores and severe infections in an Elizabethtown, Kentucky, nursing home.

Description: Lou Vena Jones was a resident at Elizabethtown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center from Dec. 31, 2009, until Oct. 14, 2012. While there, she was sent to the hospital seven times. She developed severe infections, including sepsis and colitis. Ms. Jones also suffered a severely fractured femur after receiving medically unnecessary therapy. She endured the fracture for five days; it went untreated despite staff noting the bruising, swelling and pain.

The hospital determined that she wouldn’t benefit from surgery and sent her back to the nursing home. The nursing home failed to provide enough staff to properly turn and reposition her, so over the course of nine days, the fractured bone burst through the skin. Ms. Jones returned to the hospital, where she was also diagnosed with numerous bedsores.

After her hospitalization, Ms. Jones spent three weeks in another rehabilitation facility before passing away on Jan. 26, 2013.

Wilkes & McHugh attorneys Ross Mann and Lisa Circeo argued at trial that a nursing home is never allowed to put a vulnerable resident through painful therapies that have no medical justification. They must contact the resident’s guardian to get permission before performing therapy, and the guardian has a right to refuse those therapies.  Also, patients must have a realistic chance of improving to justify ordering therapy for them.

Mr. Mann argued that the facility and its corporate owners gave patients unnecessary therapies so they could charge more and get higher reimbursements from Medicare. The defendants violated a number of safety rules, including failing to call the family for consent for treatment, failing to notify her physician in a timely manner, failing to accurately and adequately plan for her care, failing to have sufficient staffing numbers, and initiating medically unjustified therapies that caused Ms. Jones pain, injury 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 $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.

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.

Dehydration at Kentucky nursing home led to man's death

Location: Hopkins County, Kentucky

Plaintiff: The Estate of Joseph Clint Offutt
Defendant: HBR Madisonville LLC d/b/a Harborside Healthcare, Sunbridge Healthcare Corporation; Sun Healthcare Group, Inc.; and Harborside Healthcare Corporation
Amount: $42.75 million verdict
Compensatory Damages: $2.75 Million
Punitive Damages: $40 Million
Alleged Injuries: Negligence, including corporate and medical, as well as Violations of Long Term Care Resident's Rights, resulting in dehydration, malnutrition, bedsores, infections, and wrongful death

Description: Joseph Clint Offutt became lethally dehydrated despite having a feeding tube because Harborside Healthcare in Madisonville failed to ensure he got enough water to live. The 92-year-old was only in the facility for nine days in the spring of 2008, but he suffered many injuries, including multiple bedsores that emitted a foul odor and dehydration that resulted in kidney failure and 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. 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.

Woman suffers infections, more in Arkansas nursing home

Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

Plaintiff: Estate of Minnie Lee Valentine
Defendant: Little Rock Health and Rehab and Heartland Personnel Leasing, Inc.
Amount: $10.45 million verdict
Compensatory Damages: $8.45 million
Punitive Damages: $2 million
Alleged Injuries: Violation of the Arkansas Long Term Care Resident's Rights Statute; Felony Neglect; and Negligence, including medical negligence that resulted in bedsores, dehydration, poor hygiene, infections, amputation and death

Description: Minnie Lee Valentine, 73, was a resident of Little Rock Health Care and Rehab. During her three month stay, she suffered dehydration, urinary tract infections, poor hygiene, and infected Stage IV bedsores. She also endured osteomyelitis (an inflammation of bone caused by infection) and a below-the-knee amputation of her left leg. Those injuries caused Mrs. Valentine to lose her personal dignity and suffer extreme and unnecessary pain, degradation, anguish, otherwise unnecessary hospitalizations, and emotional trauma.

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 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.

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.

Mississippi jury awards verdict in nursing home case

Location: Washington County, Mississippi

Plaintiff: The Estate of Henry Gibson
Defendant: Magnolia Healthcare, Inc.
Amount: $1.5 million verdict
Non-economic Damages: $500,000
Permanent Disfigurement Damages: $75,000
Alleged Injuries: Negligence, medical malpractice, gross negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and wrongful death in a case where a man suffered bedsores, a fracture and more at a nursing home

Description: Henry Gibson had a stroke, and his doctor recommended he go to a nursing home where he could get the care and physical therapy he needed to regain his strength and hopefully return home.

Gibson’s wife and children fully expected the former mail carrier and church deacon to come back home and resume his life. But he never got the chance.  Instead, he was abused and neglected in Arnold Avenue Nursing Home in Greenville, Miss. While a resident there, Henry Gibson suffered from malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, MRSA, sepsis, and a broken shoulder, which no one discovered until he was hospitalized.   He was often left to sit in his own filth, and when his family complained, the nurses regularly gave the excuse that they were short-staffed. Gibson’s family tried to move him to a better facility, but it was too late.

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.

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.

Free Case Evaluation

Submit Case Online
Attorney Advertising