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Jury Sends Message To Rocklin Nursing Home Liable For Stockton Woman's Wrongful Death
A jury has ordered a Rocklin nursing home company to pay $28 million in the death of woman. According to the Sacramento Bee, the jury found that the company was guilty of elder abuse and caused the wrongful death of a 79-year-old Stockton woman, Frances Tanner. The attorney then urged to jurors to award punitive damages in order to make "company leaders think twice about understaffing facilities and providing substandard care." Tanner had fallen and suffered a hip fracture that was undiagnosed for several days, and subsequently died from an infected bed sore.
In California, a wrongful death is one caused by the negligent, careless, intentional or reckless act of another person or of a corporation. Punitive damages may be awarded where the negligent party's actions are particularly egregious.
Here, the jury found that Horizon's negligence and abuse - including chronic understaffing and inadequate care - led to Tanner's death and determined that Horizon should pay a record setting punitive damage award.
Earlier, jurors had awarded $1.1 million in damages for Tanner's pain and suffering and her daughter's loss of companionship.
Just last week a tort reform measure seeking to limit punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages was defeated in the California legislature. Had Assembly Bill 2740 passed, juries would be deprived of their ability to send a message to nursing homes or corporations that place profits before care and safety.
As a California wrongful death lawyer, I believe punitive damages are necessary to protect individuals and deter future bad conduct. Hopefully, the $28 million award will send a message to Horizon, and other nursing homes, that they must improve the level of care provided to our elders.