TN - Bedford County Jury Awards $5.3M in LTC Case

Good evening and below is a report on last Friday’s jury verdict in
Mabel Frances Farrar vs. Americare and Celebration Way for $300K
compensatory and $5 M punitive damages. Shelbyville is the county seat
of Bedford County about 50 miles southeast of Nashville. We are making
efforts to contact defense counsel for more detailed information. Please
note that the individual Administrator and DON were named in the
lawsuit and verdicts rendered against them. The case was pending in the
Court of Appeals on a Motion to Compel ADR and eventually the COA upheld
the denial of the MTC ADR. Please also not that evidence regarding
understaffing and medication administration errors were central issues
and most always in the LTC lawsuit. I will keep you posted on
developments. Let me know if you have any questions. Rebecca

A Bedford County jury has awarded over $5 million in damages to
surviving family members in a wrongful death suit against a Shelbyville
assisted living facility. Following a civil trial that lasted two weeks,
a jury found that two nurses, Americare Systems Inc, and Shelbyville
Residential LLC, which does business as Celebration Way, were at fault
in the May 29, 2004 death of Mable Frances Farrar.

The wrongful death suit was filed by Farrar’s surviving daughters
Rheaetta T. Wilson and Laurayn F. Watson.

Farrar was the widow of the late county judge Mac Farrar.

The jury ruled that nurses Dottie Hunt and Mary Ann Steelman were at
fault in Farrar’s death and that Americare Systems, Inc, was at fault
for "failing to provide sufficient personnel at Celebration Way."

A total of $300,000 was awarded in compensatory damages and $5,015,000
in punitive damages. Americare Systems will have to pay the $5 million
while Hunt was deemed responsible for $5,000 and Steelman for $10,000 of
the punitive damages.

Steelman was the administrator of Celebration Way while Hunt was
director of nursing at the facility.

The lawsuit was filed in 2005 and the case has already been to the
Tennessee Court of Appeals, as well as being in arbitration for some
time. Jurors finished their deliberations at 9:30 Friday night after the
two-week trial.

Farrar died May 29, 2004 due to "intestinal obstruction due to severe
constipation and sepsis caused by the obstruction." Testimony in the
trial stated that Steelman performed a procedure that caused a
perforation in Farrar’s colon.

Much of the trial was focused on what caused the perforation. Attorneys
for Wilson and Watson said that it was Steelman’s action that caused the
sepsis, while the defense stated that twisting in the colon caused
Farrar’s death.

It was also proven during the trial that Farrar was supposed to receive
60 doses of the MiraLax, an over-the-counter laxative solution, in the
months of April and May, but was only given 16 doses during that time
period, with 11 doses administered one month and only five doses during
another month.

Steelman also testified in depositions that she had requested more
employees for the facility because she felt they were understaffed, but
tried to recant that testimony during the trial.

Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell presided over the two-week trial.

Rebecca Adelman

545 S. Main St., Suite 111
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
p] 901.529.9313
f] 901.529.8772


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