Subject Matter: Corporate Negligence
Happy New Year and I hope it’s off to a great start. Attached is the TN Court of Appeals decision in Wilson/Farrar v. Americare decided 1-6-12 and the 2010 and 2011 reports from this firm about the jury verdict and appeal. This appeal concerns only the jury verdict and judgment finding the management company (Americare) directly liable for failure to provide adequate staff at the assisted living facility.
The Court focused on causation and found no material evidence to support a conclusion that any staffing deficiency proximately caused the decedent’s death. As the lawsuits against the management companies customarily include direct liability actions for budgetary decisions including staffing decisions, this well-reasoned case will be of great use to defend against the claim as Plaintiff must establish legal and proximate cause per the TN standards reiterated by the Court.
Back in 2010 (see the Barkes opinion attached), we reported that the COA determined that a hospital was 100% liability for the death of a resident for failing to comply with its own policies and procedures. This Farrar opinion on causation will help to alleviate the impact Plaintiff’s received from the Barkes opinion. The Barkes report we sent is dated 10-20-10 for reference.
Enjoy the remainder of the weekend. ~Rebecca
*****January 2011 Report on Farrar
Good evening and below is the 5-5-10 report on the Farrar v. Americare and Celebration Way ALF on the jury trial where the jury returned a verdict of $5.3 M. Just before the holiday break, Judge Russell heard post-trial Motions and all of the defendants Motions were denied and the judgment approved. The case will proceed to the Court of Appeals and we will report on developments. Wishing you a very joyous and abundant new year.
*****May 5, 2010 Report on Farrar
Good evening and below is a report on last Friday’s jury verdict in Mabel Frances Farrar vs. Americare and Celebration Way for $300K compensatory and $5 M punitive damages. Shelbyville is the county seat of Bedford County about 50 miles southeast of Nashville. We are making efforts to contact defense counsel for more detailed information. Please note that the individual Administrator and DON were named in the lawsuit and verdicts rendered against them. The case was pending in the Court of Appeals on a Motion to Compel ADR and eventually the COA upheld the denial of the MTC ADR. Please also not that evidence regarding understaffing and medication administration errors were central issues and most always in the LTC lawsuit. I will keep you posted on developments. Let me know if you have any questions. Rebecca
A Bedford County jury has awarded over $5 million in damages to surviving family members in a wrongful death suit against a Shelbyville assisted living facility. Following a civil trial that lasted two weeks, a jury found that two nurses, Americare Systems Inc, and Shelbyville Residential LLC, which does business as Celebration Way, were at fault in the May 29, 2004 death of Mable Frances Farrar.
The wrongful death suit was filed by Farrar’s surviving daughters Rheaetta T. Wilson and Laurayn F. Watson.
Farrar was the widow of the late county judge Mac Farrar.
The jury ruled that nurses Dottie Hunt and Mary Ann Steelman were at fault in Farrar’s death and that Americare Systems, Inc, was at fault for "failing to provide sufficient personnel at Celebration Way."
A total of $300,000 was awarded in compensatory damages and $5,015,000 in punitive damages. Americare Systems will have to pay the $5 million while Hunt was deemed responsible for $5,000 and Steelman for $10,000 of the punitive damages.
Steelman was the administrator of Celebration Way while Hunt was director of nursing at the facility.
The lawsuit was filed in 2005 and the case has already been to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, as well as being in arbitration for some time. Jurors finished their deliberations at 9:30 Friday night after the two-week trial.
Farrar died May 29, 2004 due to "intestinal obstruction due to severe constipation and sepsis caused by the obstruction." Testimony in the trial stated that Steelman performed a procedure that caused a perforation in Farrar’s colon.
Much of the trial was focused on what caused the perforation. Attorneys for Wilson and Watson said that it was Steelman’s action that caused the sepsis, while the defense stated that twisting in the colon caused Farrar’s death.
It was also proven during the trial that Farrar was supposed to receive 60 doses of the MiraLax, an over-the-counter laxative solution, in the months of April and May, but was only given 16 doses during that time period, with 11 doses administered one month and only five doses during another month.
Steelman also testified in depositions that she had requested more employees for the facility because she felt they were understaffed, but tried to recant that testimony during the trial.
Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell presided over the two-week trial.
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Document Date: January 5 2012
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