Verdict upheld in nursing home fall case

Trial Judge Denies Defendant’s Post-Trial Motions, Upholds Jury Verdict for Plaintiff in
Fall/Injury Case (Hawkins v. SSC Hendersonville Operating Company, LLC, d/b/a
The Brian Center Health and Rehabilitation)

On February 21, 2008 the trial Judge (the Honorable Judge Dennis Winner)  DENIED all of Defendant’s post-trial Motions in the fall/injury case, leaving intact the jury verdict of $800,000 ($200,000 in actual damages, $600,000 in punitive damages).

The case was tried in Superior Court in Hendersonville, North Carolina from November 6-16, 2007. Plaintiff proved that the Defendant failed to provide the reasonable and necessary care to prevent decedent, Neal Hawkins, from falling on three separate occasions in one day when it was documented he was a significant fall risk, and was suffering from a significant change in his condition.  Defendant failed to care plan or intervene for the known risk.

On February 11, 2006 Mr. Hawkins fell three times in a single day,  fracturing his hip on the last fall. The facility did not discovery the severe fracture for seven (7) more days. Mr. Hawkins underwent hip surgery. Five (5) weeks later he died of pneumonia. After nearly two (2) weeks of trial, the jury returned a verdict of $200,000 actual damages, plus $600,000 in punitive damages.

Defendant filed post-trial Motions on various alleged issues, seeking to eliminate the punitive damages award, challenging Plaintiff’s expert opinions regarding North Carolina’s “community standards” rule, and objecting to the Judge’s jury instructions. The trial Judge received Memoranda from both parties, heard oral arguments, and has entirely DENIED all of Defendant’s post-trial Motions. Defendant has indicated that they may appeal.