COURT REJECTS $900M VERDICT IN NURSING HOME CASE

12
December 2013

Palm
Beach Daily Business Review

A
state appeals court this week reversed a $900 million verdict in a case filed
by a man who suffered injuries while in a Gainesville nursing home.

The
First District Court of Appeal ruled that a circuit judge improperly denied an
attempt by a Maryland attorney, Maria Ellena Chavez-Ruark, to appear on behalf
of defendants Trans Health Management, Inc., and Trans Healthcare, Inc.

Without
an attorney present to represent the defendants, a jury awarded $200 million in
compensatory damages and $700 million in punitive damages to Joseph Webb, who
alleged he suffered severe bedsores and a below-the-knee leg amputation because
of negligent treatment while at University Place Care and Rehabilitation
Center, according to the appeals-court ruling issued Tuesday.

A
three-judge panel ruled that Chavez-Ruark was improperly prevented from taking
part in the case.

"The
court’s refusal to permit Chavez-Ruark to appear … gave Webb an exclusive
three-day audience with the jury, and enabled him to present damning evidence
against the unrepresented corporate defendants, unfettered," said the
decision.

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