Last year, Jehl Law Group represented the family of a nursing home resident, who was neglected so badly that she developed pressure sores on her foot that were bone-deep. The condition of her foot was ignored. Eventually, the wounds became infected with multiple bugs that are found in fecal matter, and her leg had to be amputated. She passed away two months later.
The nursing home, its owners, and their attorneys were responsible for multiple continuances of the trial, but after years, our clients finally got their day in court. Following a five-week trial where nursing home employees testified to chronic short-staffing and fraudulent record-keeping, a jury of twelve people from Shelby County awarded our clients approximately $2,000,000 for their mother’s injuries, pain, and suffering. The jury also determined that the nursing home and its owners had acted so badly that they needed to be punished to prevent them from behaving like this again. After seeing how much money the owners made each year from their terrible behavior, the jury awarded a $28,000,000 punitive damage award designed to deter the nursing home and its owners from ever doing this again.
Our clients’ mother suffered horrific injuries because of the behavior of the defendants. A jury determined that she had suffered immense amounts of pain and that the nursing home and its owners deserved to be punished for their behavior. Even the judge, who heard all the proof, found that the jury’s decision to punish the nursing home and its owners should stand. However, if members of the House have their way, our clients would have only recovered approximately $300,000.
Two weeks ago, in an act deceivingly named “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017,” the United States House of Representatives passed a sweeping tort reform bill that would protect health care providers from being held accountable for abusing and neglecting residents and patients. The bill “caps” damages for pain, suffering, physical impairment, and disfigurement at $250,000. The bill also sets limits on when suits can be filed and attorneys’ fees, which could deter attorneys from taking cases where people are injured in hospitals and nursing homes.
Despite the bill’s title, this act does nothing to protect access to care, but, instead, it would only prevent injured residents from being compensated for their pain, suffering, and injuries and protect nursing homes, doctors, and hospitals from being punished for their negligent and reckless behavior. Here, at Jehl Law Group, we believe that nursing homes should be held accountable for their actions, and we work tirelessly to make sure that they are when someone is injured.