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Major Jury Awards Around the Country for Alleged Nursing Home Resident Abuses

Just in the last week, it was reported that a New Jersey jury awarded $13.2 million to the family of a former patient resident of a Jersey City nursing home. Victim Mary Dwyer was admitted to a Jersey City nursing home for what was only supposed to be short term rehabilitation after she dislocated her shoulder at home during a fall. She was admitted to the nursing home after only 3 days in the hospital, and was expected to have a short stay.

Cases Across the Country
However, according to the article Ms. Dwyer went through treatments were 9 wound debridements (which is the removal of dead or dying tissue from wounded areas to give healthy tissue a chance to heal the wound), 2 bone shavings, and a colostomy, and further suffered serious ulcers and lost 20 pounds. These treatments and injuries all culminated in her passing away during the course of what was a 3 month stay at the nursing home for a dislocated shoulder after a fall. As alleged by the plaintiff in the case, the nursing home committed negligence when it engaged in completely unnecessary procedures and treatments of Ms. Dwyer. According to attorneys, the hospital staff only turned the patient 10 times while she was at the facility. Failure to turn her more often over the course of 282 staff shifts led to a major bedsore.

Back in February, a jury awarded a $2 million verdict to a Massachusetts patient resident of a nursing home facility. The patient suffered genital bruising and bleeding, which the nursing home blamed on a fall the patient suffered, while the patient’s attorneys alleged that she was assaulted. Without eyewitnesses, the parties had to rely on doctor testimony and medical records from the facility. According to the report, the verdict was the largest in Massachusetts history for a nursing home abuse case to date.

In West Virginia, a jury in 2011 found that a nursing home failed to feed and properly care for a patient over the course of a 3 week stay at the facility, and awarded a staggering $90 million to the patient plaintiff. Now, as of early 2014, the case has reached the state Supreme Court on the issue of whether or not the verdict is appropriate, as the defense argues that the state professional liability law limits non-economic damages to $500,000 ($80 million of the award was for punitive damages alone), and the jury only apportioned a relatively small amount of the facility’s negligence as poor medical care, (20%) given that the negligence was so basic that any reasonable person would know a patient (or anyone for that matter) needs food and water to survive, which the patient allegedly did not receive sufficiently. This ordinary negligence comprised the other 80%. This tort cap issue has halted other pending nursing home negligence cases as they await the Supreme Court’s ruling. While it remains to be seen what happens there, it can’t be ignored that aside from any malpractice tort caps, a jury saw fit to award nearly 9 figures in damages to the alleged victim of nursing home abuse. We will see if the jury’s verdict is upheld, set aside or reduced.

Demanding Accountability in Illinois
These are just a few examples of significant jury verdicts occurring around the country. Violations of nursing home regulations that lead to government inquiries and private lawsuits are no less rare in Illinois. If you believe you or a family member have been a victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you need the right lawyer on your side.

See Related Posts:

A Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights

5 Tips for Detecting Elder Abuse or Neglect