Corporate nursing home officials who bank on jurors discounting residents’ injuries from nursing home abuse, because of their age or pre-existing illness, may think again after a $160 million dollar verdict in Texas. The victim of the abuse was an 81 year old resident of the Comanche Trail Nursing Home in Big Spring, Texas. Nursing home personnel assigned him a new roommate who was mentally ill and violent. The roommate savagely beat the resident.
Although he recovered physically within a few weeks, he declined emotionally and was never the same for the rest of his life. He died three years after the beating. The lawsuit was brought by his family. Family members described him as a man who went from a man who enjoyed his family and grandchildren and friends at the nursing home, to someone who was frightened, withdrawn, and without pleasure in life.
Plaintiffs contended that nursing home officials knew the roommate was violent and should have been discharged from the home, but did not want to lose profit, so they placed him with the decedent. The defense attempted to justify their placement of the aggressive roommate. Despite the fact that the victim suffered a demonstrable head injury and concussion from the attack, the defense characterized the injuries as minor and quickly healed. The jury awarded $10 million in compensatory damages, and $150 million damages in punitive damages. The verdict has been appealed.