|VIDEO| The Damages Approach That Won $627K Arbitration Award Against ALF Over 95-Year Old's Death

Posted by Arlin Crisco on May 23, 2024 3:33:39 PM

Gordon & Partners' Scott Fischer argues for significant damages in closings of an arbitration over the death of a Florida assisted living facility resident following a fall. Watch the full arbitration here. 

The advanced age of a decedent at the heart of a wrongful death case can present its own set of issues for a plaintiff's attorney arguing damages, simply because the person was closer to the end of their natural life. But Gordon & Partners' Scott Fischer, a leading trial attorney in personal injury and wrongful death cases involving elders, says he approaches those damages with a different mindset. 

“My argument is, and will always be, that, when you’re down to the last piece of something, whatever it might be, it’s the most valuable piece,” Fischer told CVN. “So for somebody to say, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter as much because it was almost gone,’ I think is completely counterintuitive.”

And in a recent arbitration involving the death of a 95-year-old woman after a fall at an assisted living facility, the first arbitration ever covered by CVN cameras, Fischer won a roughly $627,000 award, including $500,000 to one of the woman’s daughters, with that mindset. 


During closings of the proceeding, Fischer recounted the time Teresa Gropp spent with her mother, Rita Iacobellis, in her final years, and noted that Iacobellis, despite her advanced age and dementia, was active and engaged before her fall in the facility’s dining room.  

“Only God knows how long Rita would have lived had this not occurred. She was not young, but she certainly wasn’t dying,” Fischer told the arbitration panel. “She had life left, and she had good quality of life left.”

In an interview with CVN after the award, Fischer told CVN that it’s often human nature to consider the last of anything we hold dear to be even more valuable. For example, he told CVN, children at a birthday party will often initially tear into the birthday cake when they’re first given their pieces, but as only the last bites of their pieces are left, they will savor and treasure the cake even more, because so little remains.  

That same analogy, Fischer said, should apply to time in a person’s life. “That’s my [approach] in this case and pretty much all the cases I handle,” Fischer said. “I don’t care if the person’s 90, or 95, or 100, that means they’ve got the most valuable piece left and it was taken away.”

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