Posted on May 04, 2006
Jury awards $20 million in lawsuit against nursing home
By Greg Kocher
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER
A jury awarded $20 million today to the estate of a man who died at a Frankfort nursing home after nurses allegedly failed to promptly respond to his cries for help.
The Franklin Circuit Court jury returned the verdict after a seven-week trial.
The amount was less than the $159 million sought in compensatory and punitive damages by the estate of Loren Richards, 84, who died on March 2, 2002, at Beverly Health and Rehabilitation of Frankfort.
Richards' daughter, Wanda Delaplane, sued the home, alleging that nurses had ignored her father's repeated calls for help with abdominal pain.
With an impacted bowel, he later died of a heart attack.
The suit also alleged that the home was understaffed because of companywide cost-cutting.
Delaplane, who administers her father's estate, said the verdict was a vindication.
Asked whether she thought the verdict sent a message to the nursing home industry, she said, "I do, and I hope it's heard by a lot of people."
Attorneys for Beverly Health and Rehabilitation had no comment as they left the courtroom.
Based in Fort Smith, Ark., Beverly Enterprises Inc. employs 34,000 nationwide and operates more than 400 nursing facilities, assisted-living centers and hospices in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
In recent years, Beverly has been hit with wrongful-death lawsuits in Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas and Virginia.