Defense Win June 2015

Defense Win June 2015

john-hicksBennett PhotoJohn Hicks and Samuel Bennett of Norris Keplinger Hicks & Welder, successfully represented a long-term care facility in a personal injury case. The plaintiff was the estate of a man who had died of pancreatic cancer. Suit was brought on behalf of the estate through the decedent’s wife.
On April 16, 2010, the decedent was admitted to the defendant long term care facility. In the end-stages of his pancreatic cancer, the decedent had begun to suffer from terminal delirium. On April 17, 2010, the decedent’s wife visited him and he communicated that he had been sexually abused because of swelling in his privates related to the removal of a catheter. On April 18, 2010, the decedent became combative and employees placed a called to the police. Upon the police’s arrival, the decedent alleged that he had been physically abused. The police and responding EMS personnel did not find any injuries consistent with the decedent’s claims. A relative of the decedent who had been visiting reported to the personnel that these allegations were part of decedent’s delirium. At the hospital, a small, unexplained bruise was found on decedent’s hip.
Plaintiff’s expert testified that, even though the decedent suffered from delirium and the specific way in which he had been alleged he had been abused changed, the repetition of a general allegation of abuse was evidence that some abuse had, in fact, occurred. Plaintiff’s expert further stated that the facility had failed to meet the standard of care by not immediately suspending all staff involved with decedent’s care on April 17, by failing to properly educate family members of the importance of reporting any suspected abuse, and by negligently training and supervising its staff.
Defendant’s expert testified that the facility had met the standard of care as evidenced by the facility’s internal investigation and the subsequent state investigation which failed to find any deficiencies. Defendant’s expert stated that no abuse had occurred as a small bruise was inconsistent with the allegations of abuse being made and decedent would probably not have survived the abuse alleged.
Plaintiff claimed that decedent suffered emotional pain and suffering as a result of the physical abuse until his ultimate demise. Plaintiff requested $250,000 in non-economic damages.
On June 11, 2015, after a four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict for the defense.

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