An Arkansas jury returned a $10.45 million verdict in Valentine vs. Little Rock Health and Rehab and Heartland Personnel Leasing, Inc.
Seventy-three year old Minnie Lee Valentine was a resident of Little Rock Health Care and Rehab for a mere three months. During her residency, she suffered excruciating pain from bedsores, urinary tract infections, and MRSA and VRE infections that she developed while at the facility. Ms. Valentine also suffered from dehydration and poor hygiene. Her family filed a lawsuit alleging negligence, medical malpractice, and violations of the resident’s rights act.
After hearing evidence and testimony that Brad Bedell, the owner of Little Rock Health and Rehab, failed to provide the facility with adequate policies and procedures to prevent injury, the jury awarded the family of Minnie Valentine $10.45 million, with the award against Brad Bedell personally totaling $5 million. The case was prosecuted by two Arkansas law firms.
Although not involved in the Valentine case, the Terry Law Firm recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Scott County, Missouri against another nursing home facility owned by Brad Bedell, in which he was named personally, along with other individuals and corporations owned by Mr. Bedell, including the facility, Hunter Acres Caring Center in Sikeston, Missouri.
In our case, Nancy Kinder was a resident of Hunter Acres Caring Center who was struck by a train just outside of the nursing home facility. The Kinder lawsuit alleges that the nursing home and its owners and operators failed to provide Ms. Kinder with a safe environment and failed to provide proper care and supervision, which ultimately led to her untimely death.
When Nancy Kinder was admitted to Hunter Acres Caring Center in December 2004, she was a known elopement risk. Less than 24 hours after her initial admission, Nancy walked away from Hunter Acres without anyone noticing. A passing motorist saw her walking down the street and contacted the facility. Nancy was able to elope from the nursing home facility several more times before Hunter Acres developed a Care Plan.
At least four separate times before her death, she was found walking toward the railroad tracks that run behind the nursing home facility. There was no fence or other barrier to prevent eloping nursing home residents from reaching the railroad tracks.
Early in the morning on March 18, 2010, Nancy eloped from Hunter Acres and walked toward the railroad tracks behind the facility. She reached the railroad tracks and walked into the path of an oncoming train, which struck her. Nancy’s injuries were extensive: multiple broken bones, lacerations, extensive injuries to her left shoulder, right groin, left hip, right upper thigh, left lower leg, left upper thigh, and right hip. She also suffered a open wound to her leg, a comminuted fracture of the mid-right femur and multiple rib fractures. Hospital records indicated an “obvious deformity” to her lower extemity. After suffering excruciating pain for several hours, Nancy died.
After Nancy’s death, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services investigated the manner in which she died and Hunter Acres was cited with an “Immediate Jeopardy” citation.
According to attorney David Terry, “If the owners had authorized money for more staff members or simply built a fence around this property, there is no way that Nancy would have been able to wander away from the facility as she often did and certainly would not have been able to reach the railroad tracks.”