A jury in Ventura County awarded $7.75 million last month to the family of a 71-year-old stroke victim who filed an elder abuse lawsuit against the Fillmore Convalescent Center. Ms. Maria Arellano was a stroke victim who was non-verbal. During the trial a secret videotape of the woman being abused was viewed by the jurors. The jury awarded $2.75 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitives.
In 2006, Maria Arellano, 71, was a resident at the center and family members noticed during a visit that she was bruised. They complained to management, but the center failed to investigate. So the family set up a hidden video camera on a side table in her room. The camera caught an employee, Monica Garcia, slapping Ms. Arellano, pulling her around by the hair, bending her neck, fingers and wrists, and treating her violently in a shower chair.
The verdict splits liability among three Defendants: the center, 40%; owner Eduardo Gonzalez, 40%; and the employee, 20%. Greg Johnson, a Oxnard, Calif. lawyer, represented the Plaintiff and did a good job. Incidentally, last month Fillmore Convalescent received a five-star rating, the highest, from the Nursing Home Compare system, run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
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