Family awarded nearly $30 million in wrongful death nursing home lawsuit

The family and estate of Frances Tanner, 79, of Stockton, has been awarded nearly $30 million in damages by a California jury after the Colonial Healthcare of Auburn and its parent company, Horizon West Healthcare were found guilty of elder abuse and neglect.

Frances Tanner, 79, of Stockton had mild dementia when she moved into Colonial Healthcare in 2005. She died seven months after entering the nursing home from an infected bedsore, or decubitus ulcer.

The jury awarded $1.1 million in compensatory damages to Tanner’s estate and her daughter Elizabeth Pao and they also found that the company should pay $28 million in punitive damages.

Testimony during the wrongful death trial revealed that Colonial Healthcare was chronically understaffed and had poor medical documentation and were motivated by corporate greed. The attorney for Tanner’s estate argued that Colonial and Horizon were motivated by profit instead of the welfare of the elderly patients under their care.

In awarding $28 million in punitive damages, the jury sided with Carole Herman of Foundation Abiding the Elderly who said:

The people spoke today. They wanted to make sure that this company never again puts profits before patient care.”

Punitive damages could be awarded because the jury found the nursing home’s conduct “malicious, oppressive or fraudulent.” The intent of punitive damages is to refer or deter the defendant(s) from engaging in the same conduct in the future that which was the basis of the lawsuit. Punitive damages are not so much to compensate the plaintiffs in the lawsuit but to deter the defendant from acting in a similar manner in the future.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney Blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured by nursing home abuse and neglect and the family of those killed. We have more than 40 years experience representing wrongful death cases in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest.

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

The Sacramento Bee “Jury hits Auburn nursing home with $28 million in punitive damages
By Cynthia Hubert Posted: May 14, 2010

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