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Elder Law

$667M Nursing Home Verdict Surprised Even the Plaintiffs’ Lawyers

Posted Aug 31, 2010 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A class action lawsuit that resulted in a $667 million verdict last month against a for-profit nursing home company surprised even the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The verdict is thought to be the largest in the country so far this year, the Associated Press reports. The huge award is “sending shock waves through the industry and rekindling calls for tort reform,” the story says. Both sides are discussing a settlement.

Last week, a California judge denied a motion for a mistrial that claimed one of the jurors in the case had not disclosed his former experience with the company, Skilled Healthcare Group Inc., according to AP and Bloomberg. The juror had worked for the coroner’s office, had handled at least one body from the company’s facilities, and later got to know the daughter of the resident who died. The daughter was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the company said.

The suit, filed on behalf of 32,000 plaintiffs, had claimed Skilled Healthcare had inadequate staffing at 22 California facilities. The daughter of a man with Alzheimer’s who lived in one of the facilities provided key testimony, saying she often found him in urine-soaked clothes on her almost daily visits, the AP story says.

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