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             


Sandler Training CEO Completes Devine Assessment Certification, Used By Fortune 500 Firms To Hire Smarter Talent

Lisa Nausley, owner and CEO of Sandler Training, has completed her certification in a suite of talent assessment tools developed by The Devine Group for Fortune 500 companies and other employers. "This prestigious designation from Sandler Training’s international partner shows Nausley’s commitment to continued education as an expert in Devine assessments for the entire employee ... (click for more)

Urban League Entrepreneur Power Luncheon To Feature Dr. Randal Pinkett

This year’s keynote speaker for the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga 5th Annual Entrepreneur Power Luncheon will be Dr. Randall Pinkett, founder, chairman and CEO of BCT Partners. EPL is a fiscally charged business luncheon designed to empower Chattanooga’s small, minority and women-owned business owners and entrepreneurs, said officials.  Dr. Pinkett is an entrepreneur, ... (click for more)

City May Make It Easier For Food Trucks To Operate In Chattanooga

The City Council is considering action that would make it easier for food trucks to operate in Chattanooga.  City Attorney Wade Hinton said cities like Austin and Portland have thriving food truck operations and Chattanooga is studying those models. He said, "It's truly an industry there." He said a 2013 food truck ordinance was limited and did not allow food trucks on ... (click for more)

Magistrate Says She Was Fired Because Philyaw Did Not Want To Be Seen With Someone Openly Gay

A former magistrate at Juvenile Court said she was fired because Judge Rob Philyaw and Court Administrator Sam Mairs "wanted me gone because I was openly gay." County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said Elizabeth Gentzler was not the only gay at Juvenile Court and Hamilton County government, indicating that may be part of the county's defense. Attorney Stuart James, representing Ms. ... (click for more)

The Panhandling "Tax" On Gunbarrel

I’ve been reading about the panhandling problem in downtown; it is a huge problem in the Gunbarrel area, too.  It’s commonplace to be accosted by panhandlers when walking from your parked car into a commercial establishment.  And often they are aggressive.  I look carefully around my car before getting out, but sometimes someone will be lurking in between cars and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sheriff’s Request

Jim Hammond will talk to members of the Hamilton County School Board on Thursday afternoon and, just like any police officer in the United States, he will request that everybody “stay in their own lane.” Some school board members tend to believe they need to help decide the best methods of protecting our children. They believe this is one of the things they were elected to do in ... (click for more)