Jurors recently determined that a Northern California-based nursing home chain should pay nearly $30 million in damages for the death of a 79-year-old woman who was killed as a result of elder abuse in 2005.
Frances Tanner was a resident at a Colonial Healthcare nursing home beginning in March 2005. While she was described as “spirited and lively”, her mild dementia required that she move into the nursing home for additional help. However, just seven months later, she fell and broke her hip and died from an infected bedsore just seven months later. During the testimony, jurors heard accusations against Colonial Healthcare that the nursing home was chronically understaffed, had poor medical documentation, and promoted an ideology of corporate greed over patient health and safety.
Colonial Healthcare is owned by Horizon West of Rocklin, which owns 33 nursing homes across the nation, mostly in Northern California. Despite vehemently arguing against the charges, jurors found that both Colonial and Horizon were responsible for the poor patient care that lead to Tanner’s bed sore and subsequent death. In fact, this is the fourth time that Colonial was cited as responsible for the death of a nursing home patient. Overall, the jury awarded Tanner’s daughter $1.1 million in damages for her mother’s pain and suffering, as well as an additional $28 million in punitive damages after deciding that Colonial Healthcare’s conduct was “malicious, oppressive, or fraudulent”.