Federal Court Authorizes Punitive Damages Claim Against Nursing Home 

  • By Holland, Holland Edwards & Grossman, PC
  • 20 Oct, 2013
Holland, Holland Edwards & Grossman, P.C., along with co-counsel obtained a major ruling from Colorado Federal District Judge William Martinez authorizing a punitive damages claim to proceed against nursing home owners based on the alleged willful and wanton conduct of a Maintenance Manager who is alleged to have caused the death of an elderly woman by dropping her from a broken Hoyer transfer type lift.

The complaint claims that the facility’s Maintenance Manager was directed by the Nursing Home Administrator to change a safety clip on the lift and did so by taking an incompatible clip from a different lift for which he was disciplined.

The lift was also only being operated by one person rather than two as required when the clip gave way and the resident fell suffering multiple fractures and dying the next day.

The Court ruled that:

"With regard to causation, the Court finds sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that [this manager’s] actions in replacing the clip were a contributing cause of the incident. . . From this evidence, a reasonable jury could conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that [this manager] purposefully replaced the clip with an incompatible one, and that he knew or should have known that such reckless action would have a strong probability of resulting in injury."

The Court also found that there was sufficient evidence that this Maintenance Director had managerial authority to recruit, hire and manage subordinate maintenance personnel, as well as oversee the safety program “to impose liability for exemplary damages on his employers for any willful and wanton conduct." 

Read the ruling here: https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/0e13b844/files/uploaded/Wake%20ruling.pdf
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