After hearing evidence in a wrongful death lawsuit against assisted living behemoth, Emeritus Corp., a California jury awarded the resident’s family $3.875 million for the woman’s pain and suffering she endured during a three-month admission to their Emerald Hills facility.
Apparently the jurors hearing this matter were unswayed by arguments presented by lawyers for Emeritus who proposed that the woman’s death was a result of her compromised medical condition and an inevitable progression of her Alzheimer’s. Read more about the specific allegations made relating to this case of elder abuse in our recent blog post here.
In rendering their decision, jurors were given the task of deciding 15 questions to be answered in a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ fashion based upon the evidence that they were presented with. The 12 jurors unanimously decided in favor of the deceased woman’s family on virtually all of the issues presented before them including:
Did Emeritus employees fail to use reasonable care in providing for Joan Boice’s hygienic, mental health and safety needs?
Did this result in substantial harm to her?
Did officers and directors of the company know about the unfitness of their employees and act with conscious disregard of the rights and safety of others?
Did the Boice suit prove “that an employee, officer, director or a managing agent acted with recklessness, malice, oppression and fraud?”
Now that the jury has determined Emeritus’s guilt in the compensatory stages, the case will proceed to the punitive damage aspect of the trial where the jury will hear evidence about corporate revenue and profit. Unlike the initial phase of the trial which addresses compensatory damages, the punitive phase with evaluate the evidence and determine an amount of money that will sufficiently punish the company for its conduct.
Considering the general lack of staffing that was evident from the compensatory damage aspect of the initial trial, jurors may be appalled to learn that while no staff may have been present to supervise patients during the nighttime hours, the company was in a full throttle acquisition mode where they were intent on adding to their real estate holdings while adding new residents to their roster of more than 43,000.
As elder abuse attorneys we will surely watch this trial closely and report back on the verdict. Please stay tuned….