McKnight’s Long Term Care News is reporting that the family of a Colorado nursing home resident who died in the facility has received a potentially record-breaking $5.5 million verdict.
According to the family’s complaint, 77-year-old Sophia Alcon endured numerous instances of neglect and abuse from the time of her admission into the Life Care Center of Pueblo in the City of Pueblo until she passed away in November of 2013. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in January of 2015, alleging that the nursing home’s neglect led to unexplained bruising, bedsores, infections, malnutrition and eventually, her death.
Her son, George Alcon, first brought the case against the facility into the court. He was awarded $5 million in punitive damages, which are monetary awards designed to punish wrongdoing and discourage the same behavior from others, $500,000 in damages stemming from his mother’s death and $57,000 for economic damages due to the facility’s negligence.
As noted by McKnight, this verdict is believed to be a new record for a wrongful death claim against a nursing facility in the state. It was also reported that no witnesses or corporate representatives showed up at the trial on behalf of Life Care Center of Pueblo’s parent company, Life Care Centers of America Inc., and this may have been a factor when it came to the jury’s award.
The facility’s Executive Director, Keith Jackson, did make a statement to KOAA 5 News, saying that Life Care Center of Pueblo will appeal the ruling but cannot provide any information regarding the Alcon family’s lawsuit or other pending cases due to health privacy laws and the legal process (http://www.koaa.com/story/31988352/jury-awards-55-million-in-suit-against-pueblo-nursing-home). Jackson also reaffirmed the nursing home’s commitment to providing quality care to its residents.
Currently, there are two other wrongful death cases against the Life Care Center of Pueblo. One involves the death of Sophia LaCombe in 2014, and one is for the death of Dorothy Balch, who passed away in the facility around the same time as Sophia Alcon. The Alcon case is also the second nursing home facility lawsuit in Pueblo to end with a verdict of millions of dollars in the last few years. In 2014, an 82-year-old resident and his family received an award of $3.3 million from a jury who found the Belmont Lodge Health Care Center guilty of repeated negligence. This negligence reportedly led to the resident losing significant weight and experiencing urinary tract infections, skin loss and bedsores.
Unfortunately, neglect and abuse in nursing home facilities is happening all across the country, as covered recently in a detail investigative report by CNN. The elderly in these types of facilities often suffer from physical and/or mental health conditions that make them more vulnerable to mistreatment, and facilities have covered up or ignored instances of abuse and neglect by staff in past cases reported by the media.
If someone you care about has been harmed by the actions of a nursing home facility, speak to an attorney today.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into nursing home negligence.