An arbitration panel found in favor of the estate of Mrs. Voncil Sherrod, who died in 2005 from gangrene, which developed during her residency at High Pointe Health and Rehabilitation, a Mariner Health Care nursing home in Tennessee. The causes of action included claims for negligence, violation of the Tennessee Adult Protection Act (TAPA), and medical malpractice. Compensatory and punitive damages, along with lawyers’ fees for violation of TAPA, were sought. Claims were asserted against Mariner Health Care, Inc. (the parent corporation), Mariner Health Care Management (the management company), and National Heritage Realty, Inc. (the licensee). Plaintiffs alleged that the three companies operated the facility as a joint venture and that they served as the alter egos of one another. Kenneth Connor, one of the lawyers for the families, stated:
It is outrageous that Mrs. Sherrod was treated so horrifically. She wasn’t turned and repositioned and developed terrible pressure ulcers. She wasn’t kept clean and developed infections. In addition, she suffered the indignity of languishing in her own waste for long periods of time. We can only hope that other nursing homes take heed and reconsider the way in which they operate their facilities. It is particularly satisfying to have unanimous decisions when you seek justice for a negligence victim’s family.
The arbitration panel was comprised of two former trial and appellate judges and a lawyer who had represented Mariner. The parties each selected an arbitrator and those two arbitrators picked a third arbitrator who presided over the proceeding. The panel rendered its award, finding unanimously for the Plaintiff on the negligence, medical malpractice and TAPA survival claims. The damage awards were determined by a majority of the panel. The amounts awarded, totaling $2,773,396.32 were as follows: TAPA violations — $250,000; Medical malpractice — $626,396.32; Punitive damages — $1,500,000; Attorneys fees for intentional, malicious or fraudulent misconduct resulting in a TAPA violation — $400,000.
Lawyers for the Plaintiff at the arbitration hearing, Kenneth Connor and Henry Giessel of the firm Marks, Balette & Giessel, in Houston, Texas, and Matthew Mussalli, a lawyer in Woodland, Texas, represented the Plaintiff in this arbitration proceeding and did an outstanding job.
Source: Memphis Business Journal
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