Attorney Ricky Bagolie, Blogs about a recent record setting verdict in San Antonio, Texas where a Jury awarded $160 Million to the family of an senior resident after their legal team was able to establish that the nursing home knowingly paired a frail 81 year old man with a violent, mentally ill roommate who viciously beat him eventually leading to his death.
Only two days later after being placed in the plaintiffs room, the violent roommate brutally attacked him with a water pitcher, a glass, and his fists. Although he lived for almost three years after the attack, the jury was convinced that the injured resident never recovered from the severe trauma he suffered as a result of the beating.
Ted Frank on his “overlawyerd blog” suggests that the damages figure appears off by three orders of magnitude. Yet Ted was not in the courtroom, did not hear the evidence, and was not presented with the financial information necessary to determine what punitive sanction would be appropriate to assure this nursing home will not jeopardize the safety of other residents into the future. Only the Jury rendering the verdict had that information.
A verdict of this magnitude reflects the Jury’s outrage over the fact that the nursing home knew about 30 prior assaults by this mentally ill patient and failed to put in place staffing with training to protect the other residents. Punitive awards are levied when there has been exhibited a reckless indifference to the value of human life. An award of this magnitude should surely send a strong message to all nursing homes in the State of Texas and across the country that the elderly are not second class citizens simply because they require assisted living or nursing home care and that we as a community will not tolerate the corporations operating these homes short of staff and with undertrained employees so it can cut corners and put profits over the safety of our loved ones.