Rhodes v. GGNSC-Winfield LLC
In a wrongful death case asserting that plaintiff died owing to loss of blood in consequence of accidental forcible pulling of Foley catheter, jury returned verdict for plaintiff of $2.5 million after 4 day trial. AL is alone among the 50 states in providing that a wrongful death claimant may not recieve compensatory damages in any form. The damages in a wrongful death claim are entirely punitive, based upon the jury’s evaluation of the "culpability" of the defendant and the need to punsih and deter further similar acts. The statutory scheme is highly suspect in light of recent Supreme Court jurisprudence which mandates that punitive damages be "tethered" to a determination of the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff, and susceptible of being tested against a "ratio" analysis. Other significant point for appeal is trial judge’s decision to let plaintiff pursue throughout the trial the theme that the defendant did not "investigate" following the incident, notwithstanding that this "omision" was plainly post-event, not the cause of any harm to plaintiff and there was no evidence that nursing home knew of any reason to investigate. Trial took place in Marion COunty, northwest AL, close to Tupelo, MS., before Judge Lee Carter.