June 10, 2010

Jury issues $14.5M verdict for wrongful death, neglect of patient

Newspaper: Daily News
By Ethan Forman  link to article

DANVERS — The estate of an elderly woman who died after a fall and weeks of neglect at a Danvers nursing home has won a $14.5 million verdict in a wrongful death and negligence case.

A Middlesex Superior Court jury awarded the estate of Genevieve Calandro $1.4 million in compensatory damages and more than $12.5 million in punitive damages, plus interest — “the largest nursing home verdict in the Commonwealth,” according to the North Reading law firm of David J. Hoey, which represented Calandro’s son and the estate.

The nursing home, Radius HealthCare Center, at 56 Liberty St., changed ownership and management last October.

“The jury’s verdict reinforces the principle that age doesn’t matter, and everyone is entitled to the same, proper, level of care, safety and protection, regardless whether they are young or old,” Hoey said in a statement.

Calandro was 90 years old and suffering from dementia when she was admitted to the nursing home in December 2007, according to the lawsuit. She was neglected over a period of weeks, if not months, leading up to the first week of July 2008, “with multiple brewing infections, uncontrolled glucose levels and a worsening, infected” bed sore, the attorneys said.

After she fell out of her wheelchair in the dining room, she was taken to Beverly Hospital and found to have a number of complications due to her condition. She died of congestive heart failure on Aug. 16, 2008.

“(Congestive heart failure) often develops after other conditions, such as severe infections (pressure sores), have damaged or weakened the heart,” the lawsuit said.

The complaint said financial decisions and corporate greed contributed to the neglect of residents, including Calandro, who could not care for herself. It charged that Radius failed to properly train and hire competent staff, and that the corporation overseeing Radius did not comply with state and federal regulations to protect patients.

They also found problems with record keeping. In one instance, forms were checked off saying Calandro had been turned in bed — a key to preventing bed sores — on days when she wasn’t at the facility.

The corporate owners required staff “to recruit heavier care, higher-pay residents to the facility, even though the needs of the resident population exceeded the capacity of the staff,” the complaint said. “Genevieve Calandro, therefore, became a victim of this dangerous practice.”

In August 2011, the estate filed suit against five corporations that owned and operated the nursing home, and five individual, “indirect owners.”

Also named in a pretrial memorandum was Dr. David Wahl, Calandro’s primary care doctor at Radius.

Two of the Radius corporations have been dissolved and three still remain. The companies owned or managed 15 facilities, which have since been sold. They are claiming to have no assets, the attorney said.

According to a 2007 description found online, Radius Healthcare was founded in 1997 by David Roush and Christine Bassett, and was “one of the largest privately owned eldercare management companies in New England.”

A message was left seeking comment with Radius’ Quincy attorney Bernard Hamill but was not returned.

In October, a New Jersey private equity real estate company, Tryko Patners, bought the 159-bed nursing home in an all-cash transaction, according to its website. It’s being run by Tryko’s health care subsidiary, Marquis Health Services, and has been renamed Brentwood Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. It has a $2 million renovation project now underway, the website says.