The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that an Arkansas federal magistrate judge recommended $10 million to compensate the family of an abused and neglected vulnerable adult. Lois Marie Rack suffered a wrongful death at the age of 52 after only two months in Skyline’s Hillview Post-Acute and Rehabilitation Center. Marie developed pressure injuries despite her care plan requiring staff to offload or reposition her to prevent pressure injuries. Marie suffered gangrene in these avoidable wounds causing sepsis and wrongful death.
Kearney recommended that the Schwartzes pay the Rack family a total of $10,017,792.86 in compensatory and punitive damages in the following amounts:
$3.5 million in pain and suffering damages; $1 million in loss-of-life damages; $110,975.06 in medical expenses; $6,817.80 in funeral expenses; $5,000,000 in punitive damages; $100,000 in wrongful death damages to each of Rack’s four siblings.
Richard Dupee is chief of geriatrics at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. He reviewed Rack’s health records and testified in October that her care was “incredibly egregious” and “absolutely outrageous.”
Kearney’s recommendation cited Dupee’s testimony as evidence that Rack’s family deserves financial compensation for her death. Dupee said the gangrene in Rack’s legs had left her family with the options of either amputating both legs, which Rack was not likely to survive, or administering palliative care.
The judge wrote:
“Ms. Rack was not timely turned and repositioned, her wound dressings were not adequately changed, and the limited documentation of her injuries was shocking.”
Joseph Schwartz, and his wife, Rosie, operated Skyline Health Care. Skyline operated a failed national nursing home chain, including 21 facilities in Arkansas. Schwartz siphoned profits away from his nursing homes, leaving facilities understaffed to care for its recovering or frail residents. During a video deposition played during the hearing, Schwartz confirmed he had no medical training before he started Skyline.
Surveys of the nursing homes found several instances of improper and negligent medical care and financial management, according to court documents. Reports of resident neglect and abuse because of lack of money or unsafe staffing have publicly surfaced since Schwartz’s departure.