In Fall Case, Lawyer's Inflammatory Comments at Trial Require Reversal of $1.1M Award, New Trial

June 15, 2020 | Aging Services Risk Management


In a case in which a resident seated near the nurse's station fell within seconds of getting up from her wheelchair, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department, has reversed judgment on a $1.1 million jury verdict against the nursing home and remanded the case for a new trial. The court so ruled because it found that at trial, the plaintiff's lawyer made inflammatory, unduly prejudicial comments that deprived the nursing home of a fair trial.

The 73-year-old resident had several conditions, including Alzheimer-related dementia, poststroke hemiparesis, and a rectovaginal fistula. On admission, staff assessed her as being at high risk for falls and put interventions in place. One evening, nearly four weeks after she was admitted, she was seated in her wheelchair in the hallway across from the nurse's station. According to the court, the resident was "in full view" of the nurse's station and was observed by at least one nurse. Minutes later, she rose from...

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