Jury Awards Record $200 Million in Florida Nursing Home Negligence Trial

January 23, 2012
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A Pinellas County has jury handed down a $200 million verdict against a company accused of not doing enough to prevent a 92-year-old woman’s fatal fall at a Pinellas Park  nursing home.

The jury returned the verdict in the case of Elvira Nunziata who died in October, 2004 at the Pinellas Park Care and Rehabilitation Center, authorities said, after she fell down an emergency exit door stairwell in her wheelchair. Staff at the nursing home found her an hour later, still strapped in her wheelchair, at the bottom of about 10 stairs. Paramedics were called, but she died shortly after paramedics arrived according to the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Her estate, represented by her son, sued Trans Health Management Inc., which oversaw the nursing home, in 2005.

The case went to trial earlier this month and after deliberating for less than an hour, the jury handed down its multi-million dollar verdict — $60 million in compensatory damages and $140 million in punitive damages.

“I asked the jury to make a statement,” said Bennie Lazzara Jr. of the Tampa law firm Wilkes & McHugh. “To respect what she’d gone through and to send a message … that they should take responsibility for bad care.”

Trans Health Management no longer manages the Pinellas Park facility, which is at 8701 49th St. N. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

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