On June 29, 2018, a jury returned a defense verdict in federal court in Dykes v. Cleveland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC.  The verdict concluded a 5 day trial.

Plaintiff alleged the nursing home negligently failed to adequately prevent and treat a sacral wound, dehydration and infection. Plaintiff argued the staff’s negligent care caused the injuries and death of the 90 year old resident.

The nursing home responded that the staff complied with the standard of care and the resident died as a result of his significant number of advanced diseases.

Plaintiff requested $1.25 million in compensatory damages.

Judge Debra Brown presided. The jury consisted of six African Americans and one white female.

Plaintiff was represented by Paul Williams, John Hawkins, Jason Kirschberg,  David Norquist and Matt Newman.

The nursing home was represented by Brad Smith and Sterling Kidd with Baker Donelson in Jackson and La’Verne Edney with Butler Snow in Ridgeland.

My Take:

A few thoughts. The older the resident, the harder it is for a plaintiff to win a nursing home trial. It gets really hard when the resident was over age 80. The defense’s argument that the person was old and unhealthy and would have died regardless of their care plays well. Defense lawyers have gotten really good at defending nursing home cases by asserting that defense.

Another problem for plaintiffs is that the non-economic damages caps indirectly limit how much money plaintiffs can invest to work up a case. You can’t spend $150,000 working the case up when the most you can get at trial is $500,000. After Medicare/ Medicaid take their cut and the attorneys recoup their fees and expenses, there’s no money left for the plaintiffs. One solution is to handle the case on the cheap. But that also makes it a lot harder to win.

Another solution is to stop taking nursing home cases, which is the approach taken by most plaintiff attorneys who used to handle the cases.

Similar considerations are also a factor in why you don’t see more product liability cases in Mississippi even with a $1 million non-economic damages cap.