Jury tells nursing home: Pay $8 million to estate of man whose legs employees broke; homes seek legislative insulation from suits

A Louisville nursing home was ordered to pay $8 million in damages last week to the estate of a retired surgeon whose legs were broken while he was being transferred from a chair to his bed at Treyton Oak Towers. He died less than two months later.

The incident happened to Dr. David Griffin in September 2008. Griffin, who had suffered a stroke, was put back in bed “like it didn’t happen,” attorney Matt Minner said. Employees reportedly were told to change medical records and cover up the act. Because of his condition from the stroke, Griffin couldn’t tell anyone “about the agony he was in,” Minner told The Courier-Journal.
Treyton Oak Towers plans to appeal the ruling. Its attorney, Scott Whonsetler, told newspaper that “Griffin had severe osteoporosis and doctors failed to inform nursing home employees of the diagnosis,” Andrew Wolfson and Jason Riley report . “We categorically deny that there was any coverup whatsoever” after the incident, Whonsetler said.
The verdict, returned after about two hours of deliberation, includes $2 million for pain and suffering, $1 million for violating the state nursing home statute and $5 million in punitive damages. (Read more)
The verdict comes after the introduction of House Bill 361, which would establish medical review panels. Under the proposal, panel members would consider whether civil litigation against a nursing home is warranted before it is sent to court. The purpose of the panel would be to prevent frivolous lawsuits, but “could deny nursing home residents access to the courts of law,” reads a press release by Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform, a nonprofit organization that advocates for nursing home residents. The bill was introduced Feb. 1 but has not been posted for consideration by the House Health and Welfare Committee.
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