Alleged Failures Leading to Aspiration, Falls Were "Appalling," Court Says, but Evidence Did Not Support Punitive Damages

March 9, 2020 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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In a case in which a nursing home resident allegedly experienced several falls and multiple problems with her feeding tube and ultimately died, the Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, found that there was no reasonable basis for believing that the plaintiff would be able to show, at trial, that she could recover punitive damages. As a result, the plaintiff could not amend her complaint to add a claim for punitive damages.

When the resident was admitted in June 2014, she was 82 years old and had many medical and cognitive problems, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, history of stroke, and aphasia. She was at significant risk for falls. She was nonambulatory and needed total assistance with transfers, and she had muscle contractures and left-sided weakness. For at least a portion of the time she lived at the nursing home, she was prescribed...

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