Earlier this year our Chicago personal injury attorneys reported on a highly-publicized jury verdict in a nursing home abuse lawsuit in which the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for $91.5 million. According to the West Virginia Gazette, the suit had been filed by a man after his mother was killed while staying at a skilled nursing facility in the area. The 87-year old victim had died after living at the home for only three weeks. She had been living with her son before that, and was capable of walking and speaking normally when she first arrived at the home. The victim had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease along with a few other ailments, but was only suppose to live at the facility in question for a short time while waiting for room to open at a different facility.
Unfortunately, she would never make it to that other facility in livable condition. She soon became severely dehydrated and became confined to a wheelchair while under the negligent care of the defendant-nursing home. She died mere hours after being transferred to the new facility. Her heart-broken son filed the nursing home neglect lawsuit after her passing, seeking to hold the facility accountable for the mistreatment that led to her swift deterioration. After hearing all of the evidence in the case, the jury believed that the plaintiff and returned a verdict holding the facility accountable for a variety of losses, totaling $91.5 million.
Of course, many victims are not automatically guaranteed to receive the awards provided by a jury, because many facilities continue to use legal maneuvering to block attempts to collect the jury award. In this case, lawyers for the nursing home chain involved claimed that the award in question was subject to the state’s medical malpractice damage cap. If the judge agreed with this argument, then the award would have been cut twentyfold. Fortunately, the court did not buy this attempt to avoid liability bestowed fairly by the jury.
Instead, the judge in this case found that only $1 million of the total award was subject to the medical malpractice caps. This was reached based on specifics of the jury verdict where they listed what they found to be the percentage of medical neglect and what percentage was ordinary neglect. The caps in the state apply strictly to medical neglect. Therefore, only a portion of the overall award was subject to the cap, which ultimately only meant lowering the amount by roughly $400,000. The bulk of the award was left in place. However, this is not the end of the fight. The large nursing home company has vowed to fight the decision up to the state’s Supreme Court.
The Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm respect the nursing home’s legal right to appeal decisions if they so choose. However, it is important for the judiciary not to buy into the desperate attempts of firms in these situations to apply cap laws that don’t apply to lowering these awards. Jury verdict reached fairly with specific details about the reason for the awards need to be respected and upheld in a court of law.
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