Gainesville, FL— Jurors Friday handed down a $2.3 million verdict against a Florida nursing home for the role they found it played in the death of one of its former residents. Redding v. Parklands Facility, Inc., 2022-CA-000311.
The Eighth Circuit Court jury, in Alachua County, deliberated roughly four hours before finding Parklands Care Center responsible for the 2021 death of Claretha Davis, who had developed a stage 4 pressure ulcer — the most severe of such wounds — while staying at the facility.
Davis developed the ulcer, commonly called a bed sore, in late December 2020 while a resident of the facility. Davis’ family contends the facility’s staff failed to properly care for her, leading the wound to develop and ultimately causing her death roughly four months later.
Davis had suffered from a host of health issues, including dementia and kidney disease, and the four-day trial turned on the facility’s treatment of Davis, as well as what ultimately caused her death.
During Thursday’s closings, the facility’s attorney, Humphrey Law Group’s Mark Humphrey, argued that the wound was unavoidable, that the facility’s staff had provided Davis with appropriate care, and that Davis' other health issues actually caused her death. Humphrey noted Davis had been treated for an earlier wound, in April 2020, which had occurred despite appropriate care. And he added that the wound at issue had been treated at Gainesville’s Shands Hospital, which discharged her to another nursing home months before her death.
“They wouldn’t have released her from Shands if [the wound] was septic,” Humphrey said. “Was [the wound] infected? Was it in a condition to actually cause Mrs. Davis’ death? It was not.”
But Gordon & Partners’ Scott Fischer, representing Davis’ family, countered that Davis' death certificate specifically listed the bed sore as one of the causes of the woman's death.
And he argued that the wound was caused by understaffing at the facility, which he said led personnel to deliver inadequate care. That inadequate care, he said, included the failure to place Davis on an appropriate repositioning plan, the failure to properly check Davis, and the failure to promptly notice that a mattress meant to minimize bed sores had deflated.
“It was a company, a for-profit business that broke the promise [to care for Davis], betrayed this victim, and caused that deadly injury,” Fischer said. “If this case isn’t a textbook example [of] negligence in a nursing home, then I don’t even know why we have laws, because if we haven’t proven negligence in this case, I don’t know how we ever could.”
In an emailed statement after the verdict, Fischer told CVN that he believed the case helped expose a troubling healthcare issue in Florida. “Bedsores occurring at health care facilities have become a widespread problem in Florida. The excuses made by these facilities and their lawyers claiming that the bedsores are unavoidable or unpreventable are usually just that, excuses,” Fischer stated. “It is gratifying to know the jury could see through those excuses and it is fulfilling for justice to be served, not only for this family but for Floridians in general, because this is not an isolated event and things like this get brushed under the rug far too often.”
CVN has reached out to Humphrey and will update this article with any comment he provides.
Email Arlin Crisco at email@example.com.
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