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ARTICLE ID 189564

$________ INCLUDING $________ PUNITIVE AWARD – MEDICAL MALPRACTICE – NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE – BLIND, DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED PATIENT IS SUBJECTED TO MULTIPLE INCIDENTS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE – FAILURE TO PROVIDE ANTI-SEIZURE MEDICATION – HEIGHTENING OF SEIZURE DISORDER – NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION – FALLS AND FRACTURES.

Erie County, NY

This action involved a blind and developmentally disabled gentleman who was residing at the defendant’s group home. The plaintiff contended that between August ________ and November ________, the resident was subjected to multiple incidents of psychological abuse that included staff members making profane utterances and laughing because he suffered from echolalia, a condition involving his repetition of words spoken to him by others, medical negligence in which anti-seizure medication was not given and/or was not administered in a timely manner as prescribed and a lack of supervision that resulted in the patient falling on numerous occasions, suffering injury.

The plaintiff contended that the psychological abuse included incidents in which staff members would say things such as "Robert is a faggot," and laugh when he would repeat the utterances. The plaintiff contended that such loss of dignity warranted substantial compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiff presented a number of employees who discussed the incidents and the conditions of the facility. The plaintiff maintained that one employee resigned because of the conditions in the home and that her complaints were not addressed. The plaintiff also contended that although several employees were terminated, the witnesses indicated that the terminations were in response to negligent care of the plaintiff.

The defendant contended that the plaintiff was treated affectionately by staff members and denied that he was subjected to abuse. The evidence also disclosed that the plaintiff has the mental capacity of a two-year-old child and the defendant denied that he was aware of the meaning of any incidents in which staff members laughed at him when he repeated certain phrases. The plaintiff argued that such conduct should clearly not be permitted, irrespective of this issue and argued that the jury should consider that this defense position as akin to condoning subjecting a child of such tender years to this type of mocking because he or she would not be aware of the taunts. The plaintiff also stressed that the statute was meant to prevent such abuse from occurring against people who cannot help themselves.

The plaintiff further contended that anti-seizure medication was at times not given as prescribed. As a result of medications errors, the plaintiff suffered additional seizures resulting in worsening of his seizure disorder, as well as functional decline. The plaintiff further contended that the facility was often understaffed and at times the home provided as few as two individuals to care for the ten residents.The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $________, including $________ for past pain and suffering, $________ for future pain and suffering, $________ for future medical costs and $________ in punitive damages.

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