The country’s largest assisted living home chain with ties to Florida recently lost a $23 million lawsuit in which the California plaintiff was found responsible for neglect and abuse of an elderly person.
Our Fort Lauderdale nursing home abuse lawyers understand that at the heart of this case was the fact that the facility had accepted responsibility for the care of this elderly female dementia patient, despite the fact that her physical condition was far too deteriorated for staff at the facility to handle from the onset.
In Boice v. Emeritus Corp., filed in October of 2012, the family alleges that the woman’s life was left in the care of a small group of workers who were overburdened and not properly qualified or trained. It was inevitable under these circumstances that the end result would be tragic.
The case resulted in the second-largest punitive damage award in the state of California last year – $22,963,943.81. Those last two numbers – 81 cents – was the victim’s age, in pennies. Jurors said they did not want the facility to ever forget the victim, or what had happened.
As we have written about before in our Florida Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, for-profit facilities like this one are far more prone to reports of abuse and neglect. While every facility has to keep the bottom line in mind in order to continue functioning, for-profit facilities exist solely for that bottom line.
Emeritus is a national chain, with 483 facilities in 45 states, including Florida. In total, there are 30,200 employees, with 20,500 of those full-time. Total resident capacity is approximately 51,000, with about 30,000 of those in assisted living, 7,000 in memory care and 4,600 in independent living.
The average monthly payment at one of these facilities is about $4,100 – per resident – and those revenues have increased 6.5 percent in 2012. While a $23 million verdict against a nursing home might sound sizable, consider that revenues last year for this firm were $1.57 billion.
This case does not mark the first time this facility has been in trouble.
In Florida, a case out of Orlando in 2010 involved three residents who were found to have severe, painful late-stage pressure wounds. Under state law, their advanced physical disabilities should have warranted a move to a skilled nursing facility much sooner. Had this happened, these wounds might not have progressed to the point they did.
In Texas, an appellate court in 2011 upheld a case where $135,000 was awarded to the executive director of the facility who was forced to resign after filing a complaint regarding personnel cuts that left her with an inadequate number of staffers necessary to provide proper care for patients.
The case out of California involves a lot of the same kind of complaints. For example, several years before this incident occurred, a nurse for the facility penned a five-page letter to top executives for the company, stating that the shortage of staff was a huge problem, and nowhere near enough to cover the quality of care that the company advertises. Namely, the shortage of medical techs, resident assistants and housekeepers was of major concern.
Executives never responded to that letter. The nurse resigned several days before the woman who was the subject of this case moved in.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
$23M verdict stings Seattle-based assisted-living giant Emeritus, April 6, 2013, By Rami Grunbaum, Seattle Times
More Blog Entries:
Plaintiff Wins $23M Nursing Home Abuse Claim, April 2, 2013, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog