Virginia Crouse, 84 years old, was admitted to Stanleytown Health Care Center in January 2009. On admission, she was known by the defendants to be a high fall risk due to a prior stroke, dementia, weakness, poor safety awareness, balance issues, the need for extensive assistance during transfers, prior hip fracture with surgery, impaired memory loss, and disorientation, among other medical conditions and limitations.
Within two weeks of her admission to the facility, the patient sustained a left hip fracture and a left shoulder fracture when she was permitted to fall while using the bathroom at night. The nursing home’s staff did not hear the patient’s attempt to get outof bed because the facility had not provided her with a bed alarm. The fracture to the left hip required surgical fixation and the patient required significant pain medication following the fall.
A lawsuit was filed against Medical Facilities of America, Inc. and Stanleytown Health & Rehabilitation Center. Medical Facilities of America owns 40 facilities throughout Virginia and North Carolina and its corporate headquarters are located in nearby Roanoke, Virginia. [map will be included as exhibit]
On the patient’s behalf, we claimed the facility failed to protect the patient from falls by failing to follow its own care plan that required nursing home staff to assist Crouse with toileting, check frequently on her safety, provide her with a bed alarm when she was in bed, and provide her with a chair alarm when she was in a chair. We also proved at trial that in the years before the patient’s fall, the defendants trained and instructed their staff NOT to use bed alarms with patients who needed them because they created too much work for nursing home staff. The defendants’ self-serving policies prompted the jury to punish the defendants with a punitive damages award of $5,000,000.
In addition to the large punitive damages award, the jury awarded the patient $1,500,000 in compensatory damages. The patient incurred $72,998 in injury-related medical bills.
After a four-day jury trial, the nursing home filed post-trial motions, all of which were denied by the judge.
Our office attributes the jury verdict to the wonderful family we represented, a great trial judge, and a great jury that understood the many complex and important issues presented at trial. To read the opinion, CLICK HERE.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.