By Kevin McKenzie of The Commercial Appeal
A Shelby County jury has awarded a $30 million judgment against a Memphis nursing home where poor care led to a resident’s death, attorneys said Friday.
The Circuit Court jury verdict includes $28 million in punitive damages against Allenbrooke Nursing and Rehabilitation Center LLC, as well as its two owners in New York and related companies.
The case was filed in 2010, by the family of Martha Jane Pierce, a woman in her early 80s who was a resident of the Allenbrooke nursing home in 2008 and 2009, said Cameron Jehl, a Memphis lawyer who represented the family with fellow Jehl Law Group attorney Carey L. Acerra.
Pierce was living in a shared room with her husband, William Pierce, when she developed pressure sores on her right foot that went to the bone, her attorneys contended. The sores became infected with fecal bugs and required her leg to be amputated in October of 2009. She died two months later.
After a trial that lasted about five weeks with Judge Donna Fields presiding, late Thursday the jury returned its verdict finding Allenbrooke liable for negligence, violations of the Tennessee Adult Protection Act including fraudulent records of her care and medical malpractice, the family’s attorneys said.
The jury awarded $1.9 million for negligence, $129,000 for violations of the protection act. The $28 million in punitive damages are made up of $2 million each for four companies and $10 million each for the owners, Donald Denz and Norbert Bennett, they said.
Allenbrooke was represented by attorneys with Baker Donelson, who were not available for comment near the close of business on Friday. An Allenbrooke employee said no executives there were available for comment. The other companies named in the lawsuit are based in Orchard Park, New York, said attorneys for the family.