$91.5M nursing home neglect verdict likely to be appealed

A West Virginia awarded the family of Dorothy Douglas, who died after serious nursing home neglect, a $91.5M wrongful death settlement.

It is likely that the ruling will be appealed to the West Virginia Supreme court who will decided whether the settlement amount is subject to medical liability caps.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Tom Douglas, the son of Dorothy Day, who died in 2010 of severe dehydration and neglect in a nursing home. The lawsuit claimed that the lack of hydration led to Dorothy Day’s death. The suit was filed against Manor Care, Inc. HCR Manor Care Services Inc., Healthcare and Retirement Corporation of America, LLC, and Heartland Employment Services LLC.

According to Tom Douglas, Dorothy was ambulatory and communicative when she entered the nursing home. Within 20 days, her condition had deteriorated and she was comatose, unable to communicate and was not longer able to feed herself.

According to the trial transcripts, Tom tried to transfer his mother out of the nursing facility but the facility could not get the paperwork right.

In making this large award, the jury awarded $11 million for the wrongful death of Dorothy Douglas. The remaining $80 million was a punitive award, to punish the nursing home for their intentional misconduct. The jury was clearly sending a message that the treatment of Douglas was unacceptable and they wanted to punish the nursing home to prevent future abuse and deaths.

The question that will probably be decided by the Supreme Court is whether medical liability caps should apply in this case. This is a contentions issue. In 2003, the West Virginia legislature created a statute which placed medical liability caps on awards. The attorney for Douglas’ family says the punitive portion of the award is not subject to a medical malpractice cap.

Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms. Dehydration and malnutrition are two serious signs. Other serious signs can include bedsores or decubitus ulcers, aspiration pneumonia and contractures. Washington state has a wrongful death statute which allows the family member of a person who has died due to nursing home neglect or abuse to seek compensation in civil court on behalf of their deceased loved one.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent victims of nursing home abuse and the family of those who have died. With our help, you may recover compensation for your damages.

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Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue to assist you.

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