Florida Verdict for more than $1.2 million in damages

A Polk County jury handed down a verdict Monday in a
nursing home negligence case totaling more than $1.2 billion in damages.

The enormous award comes after years of legal wrangling
in a lawsuit that was filed in 2009.  The jury spent a little more than an
hour Monday before deciding to award $220 million in damages and $1 billion in
punitive damages.  Now the question becomes how much of the judgment, if
any, will be recovered by the plaintiff.  The lawsuit focused on the
treatment of Arlene Townsend, who stayed at Auburndale Oaks Healthcare
Center.  The Lake Wales woman lived at the facility from 2004 until her
death in 2007. She was 69.  The lawsuit states Townsend repeatedly fell
while at the nursing home and was not properly supervised.  Trans
Healthcare Inc. and Trans Healthcare Management were listed as defendants in
the lawsuit.  Court records show the companies argued they operated the
nursing home until Sept. 30, 2004.  The companies stopped participating
in the lawsuit, and a default judgment was entered against them in 2011

At trial, jurors were not asked to decide liability. They were asked to
determine the amount of money in damages.  Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance
denied the companies’ requests later to set aside these defaults.  Richard
Mangan, a Tampa lawyer for Trans Healthcare, could not be reached late Monday
evening for comment.  The companies’ lawyers were present during the trial
to argue and present evidence what they considered to be appropriate
damages.  Bennie Lazzara Jr., a lawyer with Wilkes & McHugh in Tampa,
represented Town-send’s son, Gary, in the lawsuit


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