In the United States . . .December13 December 2011 | Health Sector
On 20 October 2011 Kanawha Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib Junior affirmed a jury verdict in favour of Thomas Douglas, and awarded Mr Douglas $90.5million following the death of his mother when resident at The Heartland of Charleston Nursing Home. Mrs Dorothy Douglas died in 2009 after living at the nursing home for about 3 weeks. She was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and several other ailments when admitted, and her stay was supposed to be temporary until a bed at another facility was available.
Lawyers for Mr Douglas alleged that the nursing home “failed to provide life’s fundamental needs – food and water” – leading to severe hydration which contributed to her death. Nursing home lawyers disputed the allegations and pointed to patient’s death certificate, amongst other evidence, which stated that she died of Alzheimer’s not dehydration. The judgement incorporated an award of $80million for punitive damages.
Lawyers for the nursing home filed last month for a new trial, a reduction in the award or alternatively a dismissal of the judgement entirely on the basis of errors made by the trial judge.
Article by Robert Samut, Partner