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Judge Refuses to Overturn $29 Million Nursing Home Abuse Verdict

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A Superior Court judge in Sacramento just upheld a $29 million verdict in a nursing home abuse case. Judge Roland Candee rejected Horizon West Healthcare’s arguments seeking a new trial or “significantly reduced damages” in a case involving Frances Tanner, 79, a retiree who worked for the FBI and the IRS, said The Bee.

Tanner suffered from mild dementia when she moved into Colonial Healthcare. Seven months later, following a fall and an undiagnosed hip fracture, she was dead due to an infected bedsore, said The Bee.

Horizon’s lawyers argued that the damages were extreme and unsupported, among other claims, which Judge Candee rejected saying, “If this was a close-call case, maybe some of your arguments would have power…. This was an overwhelming case. It does not deserve to be retried. That would be a travesty,” reported the Sacramento Bee.

Candee said the evidence presented was “overwhelming” and “devastatingly powerful” and held up the verdict and damage awards against Horizon, which owns 33 nursing homes located, for the most part, in Northern California, wrote The Bee. Testimony revealed Horizon illegally under staffs its sites and conducted business “based, time and again, predominantly on a concern for the bottom line” and not on sympathetic patient care, wrote Candee, quoted The Bee. The jury’s obvious intent was to “discourage future wrongful conduct” by its $28 million punitive damage award, added Candee.

Candee said the jury was unmoved by Colonial’s in which staff appeared, “overworked, untrained and uncaring…. There is no way, from the court’s perspective, that this case deserves a new trial,” quoted The Bee. Horizon was described as being intentionally understaffed, leading to poor care and patient oversight, a point confirmed by a former staff member who testified that he would never put a family member in that facility, reported The Bee. Horizon could either appeal or seek settlement.

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