Orlando, FL— Jurors handed down a $12.35 million verdict at trial against Life Care Centers of America Friday after finding the company largely responsible for the bone-deep pressure sore a Florida woman says she developed at one of its facilities. Reed v. Life Care Centers of America, et al., 2018-CA-013297-O.
The Florida Ninth Circuit Court jury, in Orange County, deliberated about 4 hours before handing down the award to Carol Reed for the pressure sore she developed during a month-long stay at Life Care Center of Orlando in 2017.
The award includes more than $1.7 million in medical expenses and more than $10.6 million for Reed’s pain and suffering. Jurors found Life Care Centers of America, the parent company of the Orlando facility, 87% responsible for Reed’s injury and apportioned the remaining 13% to Reed herself, likely reducing the post-verdict award to about $10.74 million.
Reed, who has spina bifida, a condition from birth that affects the spine, stayed at Life Care Center of Orlando while recovering from a broken leg. Reed says that mobility issues rendered her a high risk for developing pressure sores, or damage to the body’s soft tissue after remaining in one position for too long. And she contends she developed the sore, which doctors found went down to the bone, because the facility’s staff failed to properly reposition her. She says the wound has required a range of treatment and has severely impacted her ability perform daily activities.
The 8-day trial turned on who bore responsibility for the pressure sore’s development.
Life Care contends Reed was properly cared for while at the facility. During Friday’s closing arguments, Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer’s Robin Khanal said evidence showed directives to reposition Reed “as-needed” were issued with Reed’s own mobility goals in mind. And he contended Reed often chose to lie in positions that increased the likelihood of a pressure sore developing, despite warnings from facility staff.
“They’re working with her and telling her… ‘Bring the head of the bed down a little bit, but she doesn’t want to do it,” Khanal said. “That’s her right.”
But Reed’s attorney, Morgan & Morgan’s Keith Mitnik, said medical records showed infrequent repositioning by facility staff, despite the facility’s awareness of Reed’s mobility limitations.
And he said expert testimony established that the facility’s care was inadequate, given Reed’s condition.
“Their answer is ‘You should have been taking care of yourself.’ This was not a do-it-yourself job,” Mitnik said. “Why was she there if she could do it herself?”
Life Care Centers of America operates more than 200 skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities across 28 states, according to its website.
After the verdict, Mitnik told CVN that Reed's background as a person with spina bifida, her personality, and the circumstances surrounding her case made the verdict stand out in his decades-long trial career.
"I was born to do this, I’ve done it for, coming up on 40 years. No case has gotten to me like this one where I felt the responsibility to make sure that standing up for her counted," Mitnik said. "And when that verdict was read it was the greatest release I have ever felt in the courtroom. It was partially a release of the weight of the guilt I would have carried if it had been different and it was a part a celebration of our system," Mitnik said. "That was a glorious moment for the American jury system."
CVN has reached out to Robin Khanal, and will update this article with any comments.
Email Arlin Crisco at email@example.com.