We represented the family of Mary O’Meara, an 83-year-old woman with multiple chronic health conditions who was admitted to a nursing home to recover from compression fractures of her back, and to engage in physical therapy to improve her mobility and regain her independence. While there, Mary O’Meara’s pain patches were stolen on at least several occasions by one of the facility’s nursing assistants, resulting in Mary being in pain and unable to participate in the prescribed physical therapy. The nursing home had hired this assistant while she was still on court supervision for a prior drug crime. The facility failed to engage in prompt investigation of complaints of drug theft and then failed to initiate a report to law enforcement when the employee was caught “red handed” until a state agency reminded the facility of its legal obligation to report.
Mary O’Meara’s physical condition deteriorated due to the facility’s failure to provide adequate food, its failure to provide adequate skin care, and its failure to provide physical therapy, resulting in her failure to thrive and her death. The Estate brought a negligence claim for the failure to provide care and the hiring and supervision issues, and claims for Elder Abuse and intentional infliction of emotional distress for the pain patch thefts.
There was an arbitration provision in the nursing home agreement, and the case was eventually decided by a full arbitration hearing after the nursing home refused offers to settle. It was the nursing home’s position that the only harm Mary potentially suffered was some increased pain for a brief period of time. The three arbitrator panel returned an award of a total of $111,667.75 in damages and attorney fees.