On December 17, 2013, a Middlesex Superior Court (Massachusetts) jury returned its $2,014,000 verdict in favor of an 87-year-old nursing home resident, who suffers from dementia and Huntington’s disease, for her alleged sexual assault that occurred in July 2011. The verdict was against the large and profitable nursing home company, Kindred Healthcare, Inc., which formerly owned the Bolton Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The Massachusetts jury determined that the defendant was negligent and that its negligence resulted in the resident’s sexual assault and injuries.
The alleged sexual assault was claimed to have been committed by a certified nursing assistant. The alleged sexual assault was discovered by the woman’s nurse practitioner, who noticed vaginal trauma and had the woman transported to a hospital emergency room. It was the hospital that reported the alleged sexual assault to the police, which conducted an investigation and determined the identity of the alleged abuser (however, he was not criminally charged).
The woman had lived at the Bolton Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center since 2004. The nursing home was renamed The Reservoir Center by its new owner, National HealthCare Associates, Inc., after it was sold. The woman’s husband of 67 years, who died last year, had visited with his wife every day while she was in Bolton Manor. The woman was transferred to another nursing home after the alleged incident.
Following the week-long trial that ended in the largest Massachusetts jury verdict against a nursing home, the plaintiff’s lawyer stated, “I feel that the jury got it right. And it’s not about the money. It’s about dignity and if you look at dignity, the definition of dignity, it’s about self-worth and respect and this verdict does exactly that.”
Kindred Healthcare, Inc. issued its own statement after the jury’s verdict in which it stated, “Resident care and safety is Kindred’s number one concern. At the time we learned of the allegations we conducted a thorough investigation and do not believe the assault occurred. In addition, the incident was investigated by the Department of Public Health and the police and they did not substantiate that an assault occurred. In light of this, we are troubled with this award.”
The plaintiff’s lawyer noted that the standard of proof is higher in a criminal case than in a civil case, and that “Our client has dementia so she can’t tell you what happened, so it’s hard to criminally prosecute someone when the victim can’t tell you what happened.” The alleged perpetrator did testify during the nursing home negligence jury trial.
Nursing home residents are some of the most vulnerable individuals in our communities. For-profit and not-for-profit nursing homes, often owned by large, national nursing home chains, get paid to fulfill their promises to care for and to protect their customers. Many nursing home residents are elderly and suffer from diminished physical and/or mental capacities, making them all the more vulnerable to being abused, neglected, and harmed by the very ones whose job it is to provide them with necessary care and to protect them from unnecessary harm.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries or other harms as a result of nursing home neglect, nursing home abuse, or nursing home negligence in the United States, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a local nursing home attorney in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a claim against a nursing home, if appropriate.
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