Reed v. Heritage Park of Savannah

Defense Victory With Award of Attorney’s Fees In Nursing Home Arbitration

In a resounding victory for nursing home operators, an arbitrator in

recently found in favor of the nursing home defendants in a medical malpractice action.  In addition to rejecting all of the claimants’ allegations, the arbitrator ordered the claimants to pay all of the nursing home’s attorney’s fees and costs incurred in defending the claim.


The claimants, the family of a nursing home resident, alleged that the nursing home staff negligently treated the resident, causing her death.  But the arbitrator ruled that the respondent, Heritage Healthcare of Savannah, provided good care to the resident and that she simply died of natural causes. 


Jason Bring and Robert Strang of Arnall Golden Gregory LLP defended the nursing home defendants in the three day arbitration hearing.  “These cases are always hard fought,” said Mr. Bring, “but we had a good strategy to defend the case, and we believed the claims were not based on any reasonable interpretation of the evidence.”  Regarding the award of attorney’s fees to the defendants, Mr. Bring stated, “The attorney’s fees represented a major victory for the defendants, and their award demonstrates that these cases are not without risk for the plaintiffs.”


The resident’s family originally sued in the State Court of Chatham County, Georgia.  The nursing home responded by filing suit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to enforce the parties’ arbitration agreement, and the District Court entered a consent judgment compelling arbitration.  “We were particularly proud of this unique strategy, which allowed the issue of arbitrability under the Federal Arbitration Act to be presented to a federal judge,” said Mr. Bring.


The certified nursing assistant who alleged the wrongdoing claimed that the resident’s ventilator was not operating prior to her death and that the nursing home then engaged in a conspiracy to cover-up the resident’s death.  The arbitrator determined that the claimants did not meet their burden of proof in establishing these claims.  “She simply wasn’t credible,” said Mr. Strang, “especially when balanced against our defense witnesses who all did a great job.”

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