Trials and Verdicts

Nursing home aide punches elderly dementia patient, leading to his death

Frank Mercado, 77, was suffering from dementia and limited vision. He was a patient of the University Nursing Home in New York until his death in December 2014.

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CBS News: Bronx Nursing Home Aide Charged In Death Of 77-Year-Old Patient

A nursing home aide is facing criminal charges for Mercado’s death.

Reportedly, a fight had broken out between the nursing home aide and the elderly patient.

According to the prosecuting attorney, the aide punched the elderly man. After being assaulted, Mr. Mercado fell and was impaled on a piece of metal sticking out from a broken table.

He died from the injury.

The aide, a 41-year-old woman, had worked for University Nursing Home for 14 years. Yet, she apparently never learned to control an elderly dementia patient without the use of physical violence.

University Nursing Home is a small facility, but part of a large consortium of rehabilitation and home health companies called Centers Health Care. In the last four years, the state has found 19 life safety code deficiencies at the care facility. The statewide average was 11 safety code violations.

In one case, an 86-year-old woman’s hand was lacerated on nails sticking out from a wardrobe; in another, an 81-year-old man with dementia complained of shoulder pain and then developed large bruises on his arm that went uninvestigated. – nytimes.com

The nursing home employee has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligent homicide, assault and endangerment charges. No trial date has been set.

Big jury verdicts against nursing homes are more important than you think – here’s why

Mr. Sharon had eleven different infections. His arms and legs had been in traction so long that he is now paralyzed. He was frequently soiled, and his wounds went untreated.

According to the attorneys who represented the nursing home patient and his family,

“ … Repeated instances of abuse and neglect at the nursing home led to the development of bedsores so severe and deep that at least one was infected down to his bone.

Abuse like this can’t be attributed to one bad nurse. Injuries like these can’t be blamed on overworked aides.

These are problems that start at the top. There are systemic failures in any medical facility in which these injuries could happen.

Mr. Sharon was a patient in a for-profit Colorado nursing home. For-profit chains of nursing homes use fewer resources on patient care: they have fewer nurses, higher costs, and more profits.

How do you punish a corporation?

The jury that heard this case had to decide.

You can’t send it to prison. The only things you can take away from it are it’s reputation, which is hard to quantify— or money.

In Mr. Sharon’s case, the jury awarded 3.3 million dollars.

Sound like a lot of money?

There’s actually a limit of $300,000 for non-economic damages under Colorado law. The jury thought that amount would barely put a dent in the company’s bottom line – so they included $3 million in punitive damages.

This was the jury’s way of sending a message to the nursing home—Belmont Lodge Health Care Center and its parent corporation— and to other for-profit facilities.

A trial by jury is one of the most democratic tenants in our imperfect justice system.

It is utterly essential that everyone have access to courts and lawyers exactly for situations like this. Elder care facilities that victimize or neglect the patients who depend on them for care must be held accountable.

Jury verdicts like this one are they only way they’ll get the message.

 

Frontline Reveals Sad & Shocking Story About Elder Abuse

Frontline revealed a sad story that may stun those who do not know much about the rise of eldeautopsy_rates_2008_111220.jpgr abuse in this country. Its investigators focused on a number of cases, one of which was that of a retired U.S. government scientist.

Mr. Shepter had spent his final years in a Mountain Mesa, CA nursing home. A stroke had paralyzed much of his body, while dementia had eroded his ability to communicate.

Shepter died in January 2007 at 76. His nursing home chief medical officer explained on his death certificate that his cause of death was heart failure due primarily to clogged arteries.

Shepter’s family did not question this and the local coroner did not probe further.

Then, a tip off from a nursing home staffer led state officials to reexamine the case and find a set of different conclusions.

They found that Shepter had actually died from a combination of illnesses, most related to poor care, including an infected ulcer, pneumonia, dehydration, and sepsis. Powerful antipsychotic drugs also likely sped up Shepter’s demise, which often have lethal side effects for elderly patients.

Prosecutors charged that nursing home medical officer, Dr. Pormir, along with two of his former colleagues with killing Shepter and two other residents at that home. The criminal case is ongoing, while health care regulators have already severely restricted his license and fined the home $150,000.

Frontline investigators learned the following, which I hope will help inform any of you who may have recently faced a death of a loved senior:

When treating physicians report that a death is natural, coroners and medical examiners almost never investigate. But doctors often get it wrong. In one 2008 study, nearly half the doctors surveyed failed to identify the correct cause of death for an elderly patient with a brain injury caused by a fall.

In most states, doctors can fill out a death certificate without ever seeing the body. That explains how a Pennsylvania physician said her 83-year-old patient had died of natural causes when, in fact, he’d been beaten to death by an aide. The doctor never saw the 16-inch bruise that covered the man’s left side.

Autopsies of seniors have become increasingly rare even as the population age 65 or older has grown. Between 1972 and 2007, a government analysis  found, the share of U.S. autopsies performed on seniors dropped from 37 percent to 17 percent.

Oregon Judge/Attorney Charged in Elder Abuse Case

A grand jury indicted a former judge and attorney, Robert Andrew Browning, 66, on seven counts of first degree criminal mistreatment. Browning.jpg

According to Forest Grove police, the charges stem from elder abuse of Mr. Browning’s mother-in-law. The Oregon Department of Justice investigated the case and is prosecuting it in state court.

Browning practiced business and real estate law with Browning Law Offices LLC, a Forest Grove firm that is registered to him, according to police and state records. The Oregon State Bar shows Browning as an active member, who’s had membership since 1979. Browning has no disciplinary sanctions, according to the bar. Herb said that Browning also served as Gaston’s municipal court judge.

Amy Jeanine Moore, 40, a secretary at Browning’s law firm, was also arrested Friday on charges of identity theft and fraudulent use of a credit card. Authorities learned of Moore’s alleged criminal activity during their investigation of Browning, Herb said.

Moore’s charges stem from her use of a credit card that belonged to a deceased client of the law firm, police said. Transactions using the credit card occurred in June and July 2010, police said, about a year after the client had died.

About Kevin

Kevin Coluccio was recently named one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Washington State. He has long history of successful elder abuse/neglect cases and has a stellar reputation for getting results for his injury clients in serious car crashes, pedestrian accidents, trucking accidents, maritime claims, and asbestos injury cases.