Florida jury hands down $1.1 billion award in nursing home lawsuit

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*Editor's Note: The article has been updated based on information provided by the plaintiff's law firm on Wednesday. The award amount is $1.1 billion, not $1.2 billion as originally stated, and Trans Health Management was not named as a defendant.

A jury has awarded $1.1 billion in damages to the family of a Florida woman who received poor nursing home care prior to her death in 2007. The amount is believed to be one of the highest ever leveled against a nursing home.

Arlene Townsend was admitted to Auburndale Oaks Healthcare Center in Auburndale, FL, in 2004. After she died at the age of 69, her son filed suit, alleging that she often fell at the Auburndale facility and received poor supervision, according to local reports. 

Trans Healthcare Inc. was named as defendant. They argued that they operated the nursing facility only until Sept. 30, 2004, The Ledger newspaper in Florida reported. The companies stopped participating in the lawsuit, resulting in a default judgment against them in 2011.

The jury was tasked with determining the damages owed, not liability. It reportedly deliberated for about an hour before returning its verdict on Monday. It awarded $110 million in compensatory damages and $1 billion in punitive damages.

A call to attorneys in the case on Tuesday was not returned.*

Auburndale is currently under operational/managerial control of Encore Healthcare LLC, and Ridge Crest Health Care LLC has a 5% or more ownership interest, according to Nursing Home Compare.

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