Emeritus Slammed with $23 Million Verdict in Elder Abuse Case

A Sacramento Superior Court jury has slammed Emeritus Corp. with a $23 million verdict after finding the Seattle-based company guilty of wrongful death and elder abuse in a ruling last week.

The senior living provider has been ordered to pay $500,000 in compensatory damages and $23 million in punitive damages to the family of Joan Boice, a former resident of Emerald Hills in Auburn, Calif. who died in 2008 three months after moving to a nursing home, Emeritus announced on Friday.

Post-trial motions will be set to determine entitlement to and amount of attorneys’ fees, and the legality and appropriate amount of the punitive damages award, said the company, which stated its intention to appeal the rulings and judgment of the court upon entry of a final order.

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“Emeritus is extremely disappointed with the outcome of this trial and does not believe it is a fair reflection of the care that was provided to this resident in 2008,”  said Granger Cobb, the company’s president and CEO.

Late last year, the senior living provider had offered $3.5 million to Boice’s family in exchange for dropping the wrongful death and elder abuse lawsuit they had filed on behalf of their mother, who was 82 years old and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease at the time of her death, according to her son Eric Boice, the Sacramento Bee says.

Rather than take the deal, the family took the suit to trial. Earlier last week, the jury found Emeritus guilty of wrongful death, elder abuse, malice, oppression, and fraud in the case prior to determining the amount of the damages award.

Lesley Ann Clement, the plaintiffs’ attorney, had suggested that the jury give Emeritus a 12-day ‘time-out’ at a cost of its 2012 average daily revenue of $4.3 million, which would have amounted to about $51.6 million, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Additionally, in the liability phase of the trial, the jury had initially awarded the Boice family $3.875 million for their mother’s pain and suffering, and another $250,000 for the loss of her companionship. The judge in the case, Judy Holzer Hersher, had placed a $250,000 cap on the pain and suffering verdict under a state law limiting medical malpractice awards.

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Written by Alyssa Gerace

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