WV Supreme Court Upholds $37 Million Against Nursing Home Corporation Cites Manor Care’s Attempt to Conceal Inadequate Staffing

Updated 3 years ago From Press Release

Charleston, West Virginia—In a 76-page opinion late last week, the West Virginia Supreme Court upheld $37 million of a $92 million jury verdict on behalf of a former nursing home resident, Dorothy Douglas, who’s death was caused by dehydration in a Charleston, West Virginia nursing home in 2009.

A complex web of corporations including Manor Care Inc. and HCR Manor Care Services, Inc. owns the home known as Heartland of Charleston. Heartland was found to have not only consistently understaffed the facility – which lead directly to Douglas’ death – but to have concealed it from state regulators. In a sharply worded opinion, the court scolded the defendants for its reckless behavior:

“Instead of properly addressing the chronic understaffing of Heartland Nursing Home, (Manor Care) Companies attempted to conceal (it) by creating the appearance of adequate staff during times when the facility was being inspected, and by allowing its posted staffing data to incorrectly reflect higher levels of staff than were actually working," Chief Justice Robin Davis wrote for the majority. "Specifically demonstrated by the facts of this case, (Manor Care) Companies’ conduct inflicted egregious physical harm upon a weak and helpless woman who depended upon them for her care: egregious physical harm that ultimately cost this helpless woman her life."

The McHugh Fuller Law Group brought the case on behalf of Ms. Douglas’ children. Speaking for the firm and on behalf of the family, attorney Mike Fuller said, “The family deeply appreciates the court’s time and effort allocated to this case. The family only wanted those responsible for their mother’s death held fully accountable for their actions.” Fuller added, “The court demonstrated that those who act recklessly and intentionally harm elderly residents will not escape justice in West Virginia. We are pleased they agreed that the Defendants’ conduct was reprehensible and deserved to be punished.”

Tom Douglas said, ”while the result in my mother’s case isn’t going to change what our family has endured, hopefully it will prevent another family from having to live through the same nightmare we did.”

The firm also issued the following statement:

“This verdict is not about the money, it is about holding this multibillion dollar corporation accountable for killing the people of this state. This not the first time that a West Virginia jury has said

that Manor Care’s reckless behavior has led to the unnecessary death of an elderly resident in its care. On behalf of the Douglas family, we at McHugh Fuller hope it is the last.

With this decision, the Court has shown great thought and fairness in protecting the citizens of this state, and that no matter how big the corporation, you cannot come in to West Virginia and

intentionally abuse and neglect our people and expect to get away with it.”

The Court posted its final ruling late Wednesday, June 18.

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