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August 30th, 2011

‘Astronomically High’ Nursing Home Verdict Maintains West Virginia’s ‘Hellhole’ Reputation

A Charleston Daily Mail editorial rightly criticizes a $90.5 million verdict in a lawsuit against a nursing home that alleged negligence in the wrongful death of an 87-year-old woman who suffered from dementia.

The editorial observes that medical malpractice reforms limiting awards for noneconomic damages enacted in 2003 surely were meant to apply to nursing home facilities, even though the judge who presided over the case let the plaintiffs’ lawyer argue otherwise to the jury.

Calling the verdict in the case “astronomically high” and “outlandish,” the newspaper cited a similarly costly and absurd verdict in Humboldt County, California last year that helped earn the once Golden State a Judicial Hellhole citation while invariably driving the cost of nursing home care higher.

The West Virginia case has now “attracted attention nationally, adding to questions about the state’s legal climate,” writes the Daily Mail.

“Of course nursing home patients should be protected from neglect and abuse. Of course maltreated patients should have recourse to courts.  But $90.5 million in damages? That’s jackpot justice” paid for by taxpayers (through Medicare and Medicaid) and every West Virginia family that will seek nursing home care for a loved one in the future.

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