This month, a Florida jury awarded $200 million to the family of a nursing home resident who died in 2004 at the Pinellas Park Care and Rehabilitation Center. 92-year-old Elvira Nunziata was strapped in a wheelchair when she disappeared from a group of residents and made her way to an emergency exit stairwell. It allegedly took nursing home staff more than one hour to notice she was missing. Nunziata was found at the bottom of the stairwell sill in her wheelchair. Paramedics were called, but she died not long after they arrived at the facility.
Nunziata’s son filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Pinellas County against Trans Health Management Inc., the company who operated Pinellas Park Care and Rehabilitation Center at the time of her death. According to the lawsuit, Nunziata lived at the facility for more than one year before her death. At trial, her son alleged the nursing home’s staff was aware Nunziata suffered from dementia and was prone to wandering. Nunziata purportedly suffered previous injuries which resulted from falls at the home. Former caregivers also stated under oath that the facility was understaffed and employees frequently disabled stairwell alarms. At the time of Nunziata’s death, the nursing home was under investigation for several abuse complaints and had a history of deficiency citations.
The attorney representing Nunziata’s son asked the jury to send a message to the nursing home and make them pay for the unacceptable care she received. After deliberating for less than an hour, the jury awarded Nunziata’s estate $60 million in compensatory damages and $140 million in punitive damages. This is one of the largest nursing home liability awards ever made by a Florida jury. Unfortunately, Trans Health Management Inc., is no longer in business and its parent company, Trans Health, Inc., is currently in receivership in the Maryland.
A nursing home or other medical care facility is required to provide each patient with a certain level of care. When a nursing home fails to provide that level of care, they may be in violation of the patient’s bill of rights. If a resident is hurt or dies as a result of a care facility’s negligence or abuse, the patient’s family may file a nursing home liability lawsuit. Most care facility abuse cases result from negligence on the part of the nursing home. Nursing home liability cases may arise from a facility’s failure to administer the correct medications, failure to provide adequate medical care, failure to provide adequate food, emotional distress, and even sexual abuse.
All too often, nursing home caregivers are poorly trained, underpaid, and overworked. Such a situation can easily lead to abuse or neglect at a nursing home facility. This is especially true for residents who are incapacitated or otherwise unable to report mistreatment. The signs of nursing home abuse can be difficult to detect. If you believe a friend or loved was the victim of abuse or neglect at the hands of someone tasked with their care, it is important to report your concerns. Contact an experienced Florida nursing home abuse attorney to assist you in protecting your loved one’s rights.
At Lazarus & Lazarus, our Ft. Lauderdale personal injury lawyers will advise you regarding the steps necessary to protect your loved ones from nursing home abuse. To schedule your free initial consultation, call Lazarus & Lazarus today at (954) 356-0006 or contact the firm through our website.
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Jury awards $200 million verdict in Pinellas nursing home death case, by Kameel Stanley, Tampa Bay Times
Record-breaking $200 million nursing home verdict came without a defense, by Stephen Nohlgren, Tampa Bay Times