Estate of Dwyer vs. Harbor View Health Care Center – Massive Nursing Home Negligence Jury Verdict
Mary Dwyer, 87, fell in her home in October 2009 and dislocated a shoulder. She was taken to the hospital to receive treatment and eventually sent home. However, 3 days later she was admitted to Alaris Health at Harborview in Jersey City, New Jersey for short-term rehab. Unfortunately, during her three months at Alaris Health, she developed large Stage IV bed sores, lost 20 pounds, underwent seven procedures to treat the bed sores, two bones shavings, and a colostomy. Mary’s health continued to deteriorate and after 94 days at Alaris Health, she was transferred to a hospital where she had to undergo two more debridement procedures under general anesthesia to treat her bed sores. Sadly, on February 27th, 2010 – Dwyer died from system organ failure.
The legal representation for Dwyer contended that her maladies and treatments at Alaris Health at Harborview were unnecessary and preventable so they in turn sued Harborview Health Care Center and Jersey City Health Care Provider (the two entities through which Alaris Health did business). The attorneys for Dwyer maintained that the nursing home was clearly understaffed, which was backed up by a former employee at Harborview who stated aides rarely had enough time to reposition residents/patients so they would not develop bed sores. It was alleged in court that this negligence and understaffing is what caused Dwyer’s bedsores to develop into Stage IV ulcers. During the trial, Dwyer’s representation elicited testimony from an expert on nursing home care who is known for turning around failing or mismanaged facilities. The expert concurred with the plaintiff that that given the facts of the case, and the lack of staff at the defendant nursing home, that the facility could not provide adequate care for all 180 patients in the for-profit facility.
During the trial more alarming facts surfaced. For example, while Dwyer was a patient, the facility’s records indicated that nurse-aide hours of employment were below state standards by at least 141 hours for one month and 91 another month. Perhaps even worse, Dwyer’s legal team contended that the facility falsified her medical and attendance charts to make it seem like adequate care was provided. This was proven since there were records of her bathing, turning, feeding, and repositioning on days when she was not even in the facility. Dwyer’s legal representation also welcomed the defense to bring in current employees and aides of the facility to back up their claim that the facility was indeed properly staffed, but none agreed to do so.
Nursing Home Injuries in the $13M Jury Verdict for the Plaintiff
Ms. Dwyer suffered a fall in her private home, which left her immobilized. Due to the alleged nursing home neglect, she developed Stage 4 pressure ulcers and weight loss totaling more than 20%. The Plaintiff’s experts diagnosed her with cachexia and compared her to a Holocaust death camp survivor.
As a result of her bedsores, the elderly nursing home resident was forced to undergo multiple debridement surgeries and a colostomy to keep the wound from being infected by feces and urine.
One of the Nation’s Largest Jury Verdicts Against a Nursing Home
The New Jersey jury verdict spoke truth to how enraging a nursing home negligence case can be for a jury. After hearing all the evidence and closing statements over an 11 day trial, the jury returned a verdict of $13,213,000 against the nursing home in favor of the Plaintiff.
Because the jury found that the care provided to the resident evidenced a reckless or wanton disregard for the safety of Ms. Dwyer, punitive damages were awarded against the nursing home. The jury awarded $5 million in compensatory damages to the Dwyer family and $8,213,000 in punitive damages against Harbor View Health Care Center.
The defense denied all allegations of liability and argued that Ms. Dwyer’s damages were unrelated to any nursing home neglect. Instead, the defense argued that these were preexisting comorbidities. The jury disagreed.
*Each case is different. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome or indicate an expected outcome on your particular case. The above prior lawsuit information is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney. This individual case information above is publicly filed information gathered from the publicly filed complaint. This information and these cases are not the work of this law firm. The contents of this website should not be construed as legal advice on any specific fact or circumstance. Your receipt of such information does not create an attorney-client relationship with this law firm or any of its lawyers. You should not act or rely on any of the information contained herein without seeking professional legal advice. Speak with an attorney immediately if you believe you have a viable case against a nursing home, assisted living facility or medical facility.
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