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Family gets $23 million verdict after elderly woman's death

Earlier this month a jury found in favor of the family of an 81-year-old woman with advanced dementia who died after apparent neglect at a nursing home facility in Auburn, California. The trial, held in Sacramento, ended in a $23 million punitive damages award in favor of the woman's family after they found evidence of shocking nursing home neglect.

The jury found that Emeritus, the nation's largest assisted living and nursing home operator, failed to provide adequate care for the woman, who was left neglected and eventually succumbed to injuries commonly known as bed sores, sustained as a result of her stay at the nursing facility. The jury awarded the family $4.1 million in compensatory damages in addition to the $23 million in punitive damages. However, in accordance California state law, these compensatory damages were capped at $500,000.

Emeritus is a giant conglomerate which operates almost 500 facilities across the nation and the evidence in this case showed that they have had a tendency to cut the quality of care their patients receive in order to increase their own bottom line. This isn't the first time Emeritus has been found guilty of wrongdoing in a nursing home neglect incident, as they have a track record of lawsuits and facility license revocations in several states.

People with loved ones in a nursing home know how expensive assisted living and nursing care can be and for that much money they expect their loved ones to be treated with respect and dignity by qualified and trained professionals. When nursing facilities fail to provide this reasonable standard of care, these facilities need to be held accountable for their mistakes and misdeeds.

Source: The Seattle Times, "$23M verdict stings Seattle-based assisted-living giant Emeritus," Rami Grunbaum, April 7, 2013

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