Judge knocks $4 million off nursing home penalty, cites 'inflammatory' evidence

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A jury that awarded $5.2 million to the plaintiffs in a nursing home negligence case was swayed by inflammatory evidence and testimony, according to Faulkner County Circuit Court Judge Mike Maggio, who oversaw the proceedings. Maggio reduced the award by 81%, to $1 million, in a July 11 ruling.

Martha Bull was admitted to the Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Greenbrier, AR, for 30 days of rehab following a stroke. She developed severe abdominal pain, but caregivers did not see a fax from a primary care physician ordering her transfer to an emergency room until after her death, prompting her family to file suit against the Central Arkansas Nursing Centers facility. 

A jury awarded the $5.2 million in May, based on guilty verdicts for medical negligence, pain and suffering, and violating a resident's rights. But Maggio said this penalty was so excessive, it “shocked the conscience of the court.”

“The court also finds that the evidence, testimony and argument by plaintiff's counsel inflamed the jury's passion and prejudice, resulting in an award that is punitive in nature, despite the court's previous ruling that punitive damages would not be allowed in this case,” the judge wrote in his order, according to local reports.

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