On Friday a Hinds County jury rendered a defense verdict in a case against Lakeland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Dr. David Flemming. Here is the jury’s verdict.
I watched the trial for several hours Friday morning while the nursing home was putting on its case.
The case involved a 79-year-old woman who died two days after entering the nursing home for post-surgery rehabilitation after an ankle injury. The decedent was found dead in her room at the nursing home in the middle of the night. The plaintiff sued the nursing home, related entities, Dr. Flemming and River Oaks Hospital.
Dr. Flemming managed the patient’s hospital care before discharge to the nursing home. River Oaks was not at the trial. Given what I saw, I’m pretty sure they did not settle before trial. Either the plaintiff let them out or they got out on summary judgment.
The plaintiff originally alleged that the decedent died from an over-dose of Darvocet based on the autopsy toxicology report. When confronted with the clinical records of medication administration, however, Dr. Steven Hayne amended the autopsy result because the decedent was not given enough Darvocet to cause the blood levels in the toxicology report. Dr. Hayne also noted that they fired that the lab company due to inaccurate reports. The new cause of death was cardiovascular disease.
The plaintiff then switched courses and alleged that the nursing home caused dehydration and should have sent the decedent back to the hospital due to low blood pressure. But the decedent’s blood pressure was the same as when she entered the facility and in the hospital.
I’m not sure what the plaintiff’s theory against the physician was.
Dr. Kathy Gregg was the nursing home’s physician expert. They also had a nurse expert, but I don’t remember her name.
The jury consisted of eleven black people and one white person.
Brad Smith and La’Verne Edney with Baker Donelson represented the nursing home. Stephen Kruger with Page Kruger and Holland represented Dr. Flemming. Wes Fulgham with Morgan and Morgan represented the plaintiff.
Judge Winston Kidd presided in the case.
The plaintiffs’ case fell apart when the toxicology report went south. They probably should have gone to the house. They could have even sued the lab company for making the family think that the medical providers killed their mother.
A good nursing home case usually involves long-term neglect. This lady wasn’t in the nursing home long enough to build a credible neglect case. As for the doctor, I still have no idea why he was sued. I get River Oaks–they would have given the Darvocet that ended up not being given.
This is yet another example of the fact that Hinds County juries render defense verdicts when plaintiffs fail to prove their cases. People often confuse the fact that Hinds County jurors do not have a pro-defendant bias as meaning that the jurors are pro-plaintiff. It’s an incorrect conclusion. Amazingly, there are still some lawyers who do not know better.
My focus group studies show that plaintiffs and defendants are on equal footing in Hinds County. This conclusion is backed up by many defense verdicts in the county.