06/14/2010 // San Francisco, California, USA // Mary Alexander // Mary Alexander
Sacramento County, CA—In what an attorney referred to as the largest elder-abuse award in Sacramento County history, a Rocklin nursing home company was ordered to pay $29.1 million in punitive and compensatory damages. Sacramento County Superior Court jurors announced their verdict on Thursday, May 13, 2010. This particular elder-abuse case stemmed from the death of a 79-year-old tenant, identified as Frances Tanner. Tanner had mild dementia and moved into the Colonial Healthcare nursing home in March 2005. The Auburn-based nursing home is one of the 33 nursing homes owned by Horizon West Healthcare. During her stay at the nursing home, she allegedly suffered a hip fracture after a fall. Her injuries went undiagnosed, and within days she died of an infected bedsore, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.
According to information provided, jurors found Horizon West, as well as Colonial, guilty of elder abuse on Wednesday. The lawyer representing plaintiff Elizabeth Pao, Tanner’s daughter, reportedly urged jurors to decide on punitive damages that would teach the nursing home company an imperative lesson. The attorney also told jurors to consider the company’s monetary value of approximately $200 million. The jurors apparently listened, awarding $28 million in punitive damages on behalf of Tanner.
These punitive damages were awarded due to the nursing home’s incessant understaffing and substandard care, which subsequently and allegedly led to Tanner’s death. Carole Herman, a member of the Foundation Aiding the Elderly, noted, “The people spoke today… They wanted to make sure that this company never again puts profits before patient care.” In an earlier stage of the case, Pao was awarded $1.1 million in non-economic damages. These damages were awarded for Tanner’s “pain and suffering” and for Pao’s loss of motherly camaraderie.
According to the plaintiff’s attorney, “The jurors obviously felt that this is what they needed to do to send the message, to attempt to deter future bad conduct.” Though the jury announced it’s ruling, Horizon West disputed elder abuse charges, noting they “will vigorously contest the verdict”. According to Horizon West spokesperson Dan Niccum, “In our opinion, this verdict was not based on facts but emotion.” Niccum alleged Tanner’s death “was in no way due to any improprieties or failure to provide care by our staff”, noting, “We are proud of our employees and stand behind the level of care provided to all of our residents.” A motion for appeal is expected to be filed.
Leading elder abuse attorney Mary Alexander states, if you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. With more than 25 years of experience litigating the multifaceted elder abuse claims of victims and their families, contacting the adept trial firm of Mary Alexander & Associates may help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Bay Area nursing home neglect news by San Francisco elder abuse lawyer
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Phone: (866) 802-9497