State Supreme Court Reinstates Jury Verdict Against Assisted Living Facility For Death Resulting From Negligent Administration Of Enema

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated a jury verdict for compensatory damages against Americare Systems, Inc., the management company of Celebration Way, an assisted living facility in Shelbyville.  The Supreme Court remanded the jury verdict for punitive damages to the Court of Appeals for further review.  

A jury returned a verdict against various defendants, including Americare, totaling $300,000 in compensatory damages, and $5,015,000 in punitive damages, in favor of the daughters of Mable Farrar.  Ms. Farrar died as a result of the failure of Celebration Way’s nursing staff to give Farrar her prescribed medicine and the negligent administration of an enema that caused her colon to rupture.

In 2003, Ms. Farrar, 83, and in good health other than occasional constipation, resided at Celebration Way.  The nursing staff was under doctor’s orders to give Ms. Farrar one dose of MiraLAX, an over-the-counter laxative, each morning, but frequently failed to give her the medicine over a number of months.  After Celebration Way’s failure to give her any prescribed MiraLAX in March 2004, and only five doses in April, Ms. Farrar became seriously constipated.  Her doctor prescribed enemas, which the facility’s staff failed to administer as directed. On May 29, 2004, the nursing staff gave Ms. Farrar an enema without first checking her abdomen.  The enema caused her colon to rupture and she died shortly thereafter. 

Ms. Farrar’s daughters sued, alleging that Americare’s failure to adequately staff Celebration Way caused or contributed to her death.  The jury agreed and returned a verdict in the plaintiffs’ favor.  The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment against Americare, ruling that there was no evidence that understaffing caused Farrar’s death.  The Tennessee Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, ruled that the plaintiffs presented material evidence supporting the jury’s finding that Celebration Way was understaffed, that Americare knew it and failed to remedy it, and that the lack of sufficient staff was a substantial factor causing Ms. Farrar’s death.  The Supreme Court reinstated the jury verdict against Americare for compensatory damages but remanded the case to the Court of Appeals to review the punitive damages award.

To read the Wilson v. Americare Systems, Inc. opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, visit the opinions section of tncourts.gov.             

 


Josh Janeway And Kenneth Garmany Join Metalworking Solutions

Metalworking Solutions announced on Wednesday that Josh Janeway and Kenneth Garmany have joined the company as quality manager and director of Business Development respectively. Mr. Janeway has eight years of experience leading ISO efforts in various organizations. Mr. Garmany has over 20 years in the metal fabrication industry, marketing and selling fabrication services throughout ... (click for more)

CSCC’s SBDC To Offer Free Seminar On Starting A Business

Cleveland State’s Small Business Development Center is hosting StraightTalk: Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask About Starting A Business seminar on Monday, April 28 from 1-3 p.m. in room 130 of the Technology Building on the CSCC campus.  Panelists from the Small Business Development Center at Cleveland State Community College, the U.S. Small Business ... (click for more)

Haslam Signs Bill Ending Forced Annexation And Giving Tennesseans Right To Vote

Governor Bill Haslam signed HB 2371/SB2464 on Wednesday. The law ends forced annexations and gives Tennesseans the right to vote. The law now requires cities to annex by consent of the landowner or through referendum approved by a majority of the landowners to be annexed. As an additional protection to farmers, land primarily used for agriculture purposes may not be annexed by any ... (click for more)

One Of "Worst Of The Worst" Gets 10-Month Federal Sentence

One of the men labeled as the "worst of the worst" in a Chattanooga roundup was sentenced Tuesday to 10 months and three years supervised release after he pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. Guy Wilkerson told Federal Judge Sandy Mattice, "I'm just a young father and I want the best for my kids." He said he apologized and that he knew what he ... (click for more)

Time For Tennessee To Act On Climate This Earth Day - And Response

Tennessee will join the rest of the southeast region, the nation and countries across the world in celebrating Earth Day on April 22. The entire month of April is a great time to reflect on the strides we have made to reduce pollution over the last 44 years, and assess current environmental conditions while evaluating our personal responsibility to a cleaner environment.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why Jim Coppinger Excels

Jim Coppinger, who as the mayor of Hamilton County has understandably had to grow some thick skin, wants no part of the repulsive billboards now seen around town that ask, “Do you have gonorrhea?”  His Tuesday morning telephone call revealed he is just as disgusted as the rest of us who see them showing a picture of a forlorn African-American male. “You need to know the Hamilton ... (click for more)