On May 16, 2013, a medical malpractice jury in Faulkner County, Arkansas returned a unanimous verdict against a local nursing home in the amount of $5.2 million after determining that the nursing home had been negligent in its care and treatment of an elderly female resident. The resident died at the nursing home on April 7, 2008 after the nursing home’s staff failed to act on a doctor’s orders to transfer the resident to a hospital emergency room for diagnosis and treatment of her severe abdominal pain. The jury found that the nursing home was negligent, had committed medical malpractice, and had violated the resident’s rights but the jury did not specifically determine that the nursing home’s actions led to the resident’s death.
The jury’s verdict was for the resident’s pain, suffering, and mental anguish. The plaintiffs were the resident’s two daughters.
The Underlying Facts
According to the plaintiffs, their 76-year-old mother was admitted to the nursing home on March 28, 2008 for an anticipated 30 days of rehabilitation following the woman’s stroke. During the night of April 6, 2008, the resident expressed that she was in severe pain and she was sweating and unable to have a bowel movement yet the nursing home did nothing to relieve her distress.
The nursing home finally called a physician at 2:20 p.m. on April 7th. The physician ordered that the resident be transferred to an emergency room for evaluation. The nursing home’s director of nursing (“DON”) received the faxed physician’s order at 3:34 p.m., but she was leaving for the day. The DON faxed the order to a different fax located in a closet of the nursing home wing in which the resident lived but no one saw the fax. The resident was screaming in pain throughout the afternoon; so much so that residents on other halls complained. The resident was found dead at 10:20 p.m. on April 7th. The faxed physician’s order was found on April 8th.
Will The Plaintiffs Be Able To Collect The Judgment?
Now the hard part starts: even though the nursing home was part of a chain of nursing homes owned by the same private company, it was set up as a distinct and separate limited liability corporation with self-insurance in the amount of only $100,000 through a company in Bermuda. The $100,000 insurance limit is first used to pay defense costs such as the hourly fees charged by the nursing home’s defense lawyers. In this case, the nursing home had six defense attorneys representing it, which means that little if anything is left of the $100,000 that can be used to pay the $5.2 million verdict.
One possible avenue open to the plaintiffs to collect on its judgment will be if their attorney can “pierce the corporate veil” so that the parent company can be held responsible to pay the judgment. However, piercing the corporate veil can be very difficult.
If you or a loved one may have a claim against a nursing home for injuries or other harms caused by nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, or nursing home neglect, you should promptly seek the advice of an Arkansas nursing home claim attorney or a nursing home claim attorney in your state who may agree to investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home case on your behalf, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or telephone us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with Arkansas nursing home lawyers or nursing home claim lawyers in your state who may be able to assist you with your nursing home claim.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.