Court upholds verdict against assisted living facility; overturns sanctions; rejects mistrial request
Walter Polomski choked and died as a result of poor care at the NIghtingale East Nursing Center. HIs family sued alleging ordinary negligence and malpractice. The Court held that even mistakes in the type of food and manner of feeding Polomski were governed by more restrictive malpractice laws, and were not ordinary negligence. The family obtained a verdict of malpractice, and the nursing home appealed.
Among its other arguments, the Defendant corporation objected to the admission of evidence that it purchased liability coverage: the Court made quick work of this argument, pointng out that the insurance policy was admissible because the corporation sued had denied that it operated the facility. The trial judge, apparently fed up with similar tactics, had also awarded sanctions to the family based on the lack of good faith the corporation had exhibited in discovery.
The higher court overturned this award, finding that the family got enough truth from the Defendant's answers to have ferreted out reality. The Trial Court had also awarded sanctions because the Defendants had rejected a Case Evaluation recommendation. The higher court also dismissed these sanctions. While the Defendant did not achieve a verdict ten percent below the evaluation, the ultimate judgment--after applying the medical malpractice damage limitations--was ten percent better than the Case Evaluation.