Jury Decides Nursing Home Company Deserves Maximum Penalty For Chronic Under-Staffing

The jury in the class-action lawsuit against Skilled Healthcare, one of the largest nursing home chains in the country, returned to County Superior Court and rendered a verdict on Tuesday, opting to impose the maximum amount of damages for health code violations. The verdict comes more than seven months after the start of the trial.

The issue at the heart of the case is a state statute that mandates 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day. The lawsuit covers the years 2003 to 2009, and represents a class of some 32,000 patients. The company offers 78 facilities, in 7 states. Many people in the courthouse say the trial, which began November 30 of 2009, is the longest civil suit in county history. And it isn't over yet.

The second phase of the jury trial, which will establish the net worth of the company in order for the jury in order to decide the extent of any punitive damages, is set to begin next week. One woman testified earlier in the case on behalf of her father, a former patient at one of the companies facilities before he died from complications of Alzheimer's disease. The daughter had to fight back tears as she heard the verdict.
”I'm so thankful for this,” said Cool, who added that while it may be too late for her father to receive justice, she hopes the lawsuit makes things better for future patients. “We just want our loved ones to be taken care of.”  For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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