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Massive verdict entered following nursing home neglect trial

A jury awarded a verdict of over $1 billion to a man who claimed that his mother was not properly supervised while she lived at a nursing home, which caused her to fall several times and sustain serious personal injuries that may have shortened her life.

One interesting point about this suit is that the company purportedly in charge of the nursing home eventually stopped defending the case. As a result, the court eventually entered a default judgment against the company, meaning that at trial, the company effectively had admitted that it was at fault for the woman's death.

The company's strategy apparently did not work the way in the manner that the company had hoped. The company was unable to later have the court's default order lifted, and the jury, after hearing evidence as to how much compensation the company should pay, decided to award the family $110 million for their losses and also assessed $1 billion in punitive damages. It is not clear whether this award will be upheld or, assuming that it is upheld, whether the family will be able to collect this amount.

In most cases of nursing home neglect in New Jersey, families will not be so fortunate as to have a facility simply abandon its defense. Often, a New Jersey nursing home will fight vigorously to protect its pocketbook and its reputation, even when it appears that the nursing home is clearly liable for negligence. Still, as this case illustrates, juries may have zero tolerance for nursing homes that do not meet their basic responsibilities to their residents and may award substantial compensation to the families of those injured on account of the nursing home's neglect.

Source: The Ledger, "Polk jury awards $1.1 billion verdict in nursing home negligence case," Jason Geary, July 25, 2013

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