Adkins v. Salisbury Nursing & Rehabilitation Center Inc.

             On June 11, 2008, a jury in the Worcester Superior Court returned a verdict for the defendant despite allegations by the plaintiff, Brenda Adkins, that the facility was negligent in its treatment of her elderly mother, the decedent.  After being admitted to the defendant’s facility on November 4, 2000, the plaintiff’s mother, Ruth Adkins, was determined to be a fall risk per a points assessment administered by the defendant’s staff and was assigned a TABS alarm, designed to alert the staff if the resident began walking away from her bed.  On February 2, 2001, the decedent was not wearing her prescribed TABS alarm and fractured her hip when she fell after getting out of bed on her own.  The decedent eventually went into respiratory distress and died on March 22, 2001.

The plaintiff alleged that she was owed non-economic damages for pain and suffering because of the defendant’s negligence.  The plaintiff had initially filed a wrongful death claim alleging that her mother died as a result of this fall, but that claim was dismissed.  Prior to trial, the last demand was $350,000 and the last offer was $200,000.

At trial, the defendant admitted its negligence in allowing the decedent to get out of bed and that its staff would have been alerted to her fall if she had been wearing her alarm.  However, the defendant argued that it could not say the alarm would have prevented her from fracturing her hip.  The defendant also asserted that the decedent lived with COPD and the fall and open reduction surgery that accompanied it likely exacerbated the condition. 

After an hour and a half of deliberations, the jury found for the defendant.

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