A Sacramento superior court judge has upheld a jury’s verdict finding Emeritus Senior Living (NYSE:ESC) responsible for the wrongful death of one of its California residents five years ago. In addition to upholding the jury’s verdict including a $23 million award in punitive damages to the late resident’s family, Judge Judy Holzer Hersher also awarded the plaintiffs’ lawyers with $4.3 million more in fees and costs, according to a Sacramento Bee report.
In the ruling, Judge Hersher noted a high degree of reprehensibility on the part of Emeritus for the 81-year-old under the company’s care, who passed away due to sustained bed sores, according to the report.
“Justice was served, and Judge Judy Holzer Hersher is holding Emeritus’ feet to the fire in not letting them overturn the jury’s hard work in examining the overwhelming evidence in this case that the only way out of an Emeritus facility is in a coffin,” plaintiffs’ attorney Lesley Ann Clement told the Sac Bee following the ruling.
After the initial March 8 verdict including a $23 million award to the family of the former resident in the wrongful death and elder abuse suit, Emeritus prepared to challenge the decision, engaging attorneys from top East Coast law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, reported the Seattle Times. Emeritus’ new legal team includes Clifford Sloan, a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens with extensive appeals litigation experience.
“We believe that the verdict was tainted by the admission of improper testimony and evidence and does not reflect the care that we provided to Ms. Joan Boice,” Emeritus spokeswoman Karen Lucas said in a statement. “We are proud of the high quality of care that Emeritus employees passionately provide to our 41,000 residents nationwide.”
Emeritus said it will appeal the ruling including the “inflammatory” evidence the company says led to a unsupported verdict.
“In its post-trial motions and on appeal, Emeritus will challenge, among other important issues, the irrelevant and inflammatory evidence that led to an unconstitutional and unsupported punitive damages verdict,” the company stated. “We look forward to bringing this matter before the appellate courts in California to avoid similar outcomes in future cases where appropriate care was provided.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker