Orange County Jury Awards $3.1 Million in Nursing Home Case

A resident of St. Edna skilled nursing facility in Santa Ana (a Covenant Care facility) was awarded $3.1 million by an Orange County after the jury found that the nursing home failed to recognize that the resident was overdosing on morphine. The jury also found that the nursing home acted with malice or oppression, and will award punitive damages at a hearing next Tuesday.

St. Edna’s was among the many California nursing homes who received $880 million in Medi-Cal compensation from the state in a program that began in 2004, and was designed to promote care and avoid staffing deficiencies. Many homes that received the additional money still reduced staffing, despite profiting from the additional funds. Apparently St. Ednas was one of those homes.

In this case, Barbara Lefforge was admitted to St. Edna on Sept. 17, 2007, to rehabilitate from tendon repair surgery. Her surgeon mistakenly recommended 50 mg of morphine for pain instead of 50 mg of Demerol. That is a huge dose of morphine, which Lefforge’s attorney argued should have been promptly caught by the nursing home staff. According to reports, a nurse at the facility could not get the full does, so took 30 mg from an office emergency kit and gave it to Lefforge, who suffered an overdose, which itself went unnoticed by the staff. She suffered a major brain injury.

“I feel this is a just result and fair based upon the conduct that St. Edna’s staff engaged in,” attorney Ted Wacker told the Orange County Register.

After deliberating for two days, the jury found St. Edna 90 percent at fault for the damages, and the surgeon who wrote the wrong prescription only 10 percent at fault. Jurors awarded $2 million for pain and suffering and $1.1 million in medical costs.

Source: Orange County Register

The Southern California nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Walton Law Firm provide free consultations to individuals and families who believe a loved one has been abused or neglected in the nursing home or assisted living setting. Call (866) 607-1325 for a free and confidential case evaluation.