Plaintiffs, executrixes of their father’s estate, filed general negligence and medical malpractice claims against a nursing home and related corporate entities for injuries allegedly sustained during his stay at the nursing home and his death. The trial court allowed the jury to consider all issues of general negligence and medical malpractice against all defendants. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for directed verdict with respect to punitive damages against the two corporate defendants, but nonetheless allowed the jury to assess punitive damages against them. In addition to a significant compensatory damage award, the jury returned a punitive damage award against the two corporate defendants in the amount of $29,635,000.

On February 24, 2009, the Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s $3,281,839 compensatory damage award for the resident’s claims arising under the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act This award included $2,000,000 for pain and suffering, $700,000 for loss of ability to enjoy life, $500,000 for disfigurement and $81,839 for medical care and services. The Court of Appeals also affirmed the trial court’s $820,459 compensatory damage award for the resident’s general negligence with the exception of the $75,000 claim for the resident’s disfigurement. The trial court observed that NHC’s conduct rendered the resident helpless and deprived him of his dignity. Finally, the Court of Appeals upheld the $163,402 punitive damage award against the facility, but remanded the case for hearing on both phases of the bifurcated punitive damage trial against the two corporate defendants.

Plaintiffs were represented by Wilkes & McHugh, P.A. and Defendants were represented by Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan, PLLC.

Author: F. Laurens Larry Brock from Chambliss Bahner & Stophel P.C.

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