Rivera v. La Paloma Trial - Defense Verdict

Raul Rivera, a 78 year-old Hispanic male was admitted to La Paloma on September 2, 2006 and remained a resident until May 5, 2007.  On admission he suffered from a history of alcoholism and vascular disease.  He was admitted with 13 wounds, varying in Stage from I – IV.  He was discharged to the hospital 14 times during his 8 month residency, once for non-healing, left heel ulcer with gangrene.  This resulted in an above-the-knee amputation of the left leg.  The surgical wound never healed and at one point the femur bone began protruding from the wound.  The right heel also developed a Stage IV wound and Mr. Rivera was ultimately transferred to the hospital for the last time, dying after eight weeks.  The death certificate indicated he died from septic shock, Right Heel Ulcer.  Plaintiff claimed the facility was understaffed, under-supplied, under-trained, failed to turn and reposition and failed advise the doctor of significant changes in conditions.  Further allegations included failure to bathe or provide hygiene care for weeks at a time.

The trial lasted one week and plaintiffs asked for "millions" for the grossly neglectful conduct which led to Mr. Rivera’s horrible death.  There were pictures of the wounds and the bone protrusion, blown up and shown to the jury.  Audrey Jones, D.O. and Frances Lovett, R.N. were the experts for the plaintiff.  Defense called Dr. Aimee Garcia and retained but did not call to trial, Carla Click, R.N.

The jury deliberated for 57 minutes and returned a verdict in favor of the defense, finding negligence did not cause injury to Mr. Rivera and negligence did not cause the death of Mr. Rivera.  The punitive damage questions did not need to be addressed because of the "No" answers to the negligence questions.

Shared with permission of Attorney Lori Proctor, Johnson, Spalding, Doyle, West & Trent, LLP

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