A jury has returned a $23 million verdict against Emeritus Corp. after finding the Seattle-based company guilty of wrongful death and elder abuse. The senior living provider has been ordered to pay $500,000 in compensatory damages and $23 million in punitive damages to the family of Joan Boice, a former resident of Emerald Hills in Auburn, Calif. who died in 2008, three months after moving to a nursing home. I understand that post-trial motions will be set by the court to determine entitlement to and amount of attorneys’ fees, and the legality and appropriate amount of the punitive damages award. Emeritus says it will appeal the jury’s verdict.
It was reported that late last year, the senior living provider had offered $3.5 million to the family in an effort to settle the lawsuit filed on behalf of their mother. Mrs. Boice was 82 years old and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease at the time of her death. Rather than accept the offer, the family elected to go to trial.
In the liability phase of the trial, the jury initially awarded the Boice family $3.875 million for their mother’s pain and suffering. Another $250,000 was awarded for the loss of her companionship. The punitive damages came in the second phase of the trial. Lesley Ann Clement, a lawyer from Sacramento, Calif., who specializes in elder abuse law, represented the family and did a very good job.
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