Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 17, 2013 - A Polk County, Fla., jury awarded $1.1 billion in damages against a nursing home due to negligence.
The jury decided that defendants Trans Healthcare, Inc. (THI) and Trans Healthcare Management caused Arlene Townsend years of suffering in their chronically under-staffed nursing home, Auburndale Oaks in Bartow, Fla. The award included $110 million in compensatory damages and $1 billion in punitive damages.
“An award of this size is a very strong warning against neglect in nursing homes,” observed Robert Joyce, a Tampa nursing home abuse attorney who is not involved in the case. “Even if the majority of these damages are never recovered, nursing homes will still sit up and take notice. I think this jury wanted to send a message: The neglect or abuse of vulnerable elderly Floridians will not be tolerated.”
Townsend's son decided to move his mother to Auburndale Oaks following a stroke that left her in need of round-the-clock care. During her six-year stay there, she suffered 18 falls, one of which resulted in a fractured hip that was not diagnosed or treated for a week, according to plaintiff's attorneys. She also had chronic infections, stomach pains, skin wounds, dehydration, and malnutrition. She died on Sept. 19, 2007, aged 69.
The lawsuit was initially filed in 2009. The defendant companies stopped participating in the lawsuit, according to TheLedger.com, and the court ruled against them by default in 2011. At the recent trial, jurors were instructed to determine the amount of damages that should be awarded. The defense attorneys' request to undo the default judgment was denied, and they argued at the trial in favor of what they considered appropriate monetary damages.
According to WTSP News, this is the fourth multi-million-dollar verdict against THI. In 2010, the jury in another case handed down a $114 million verdict against the company.
“Clearly, the jury saw evidence of severe neglect on the part of the operators of this nursing home,” Joyce added, “as several other juries already have.”
Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave
Tampa, FL 33606