Court grants nursing home a win in appeal of $1 million medical negligence suit

An Ohio appeals court has ruled in favor of a skilled nursing facility in a medical malpractice case, granting its appeal and vacating the more than $1 million in damages and attorney fees levied against it in 2015.

Beachwood Pointe Care Center in Beachwood, OH, was sued by an estate administrator for a former resident who died in 2012. The administrator's suit claimed the resident's death was due to staff negligence, as well as pressure wounds and “fatal” injuries that went unreported to her family and physician.

In 2015 jury awarded the residents' estate $560,000 in punitive damages and $440,000 in compensatory damages, along with $31,000 in attorney fees. Beachwood filed a motion for a new trial, as well as a reduction in damages, which was denied in 2016. The facility chose to appeal the trial court's rulings.

A three-judge panel with the Eighth Appellate District court ruled on Thursday to vacate the damages against Beachwood, citing insufficient evidence that the facility acted with malice when caring for the resident.

“This is not a case where the defendant intentionally acted, or failed to act, knowing that substantial harm will probably occur,” wrote Judge Patricia Ann Blackmon. “There is no evidence of hatred, ill-will, or a spirit of revenge.”

McKnight's request for comment from Beachwood was not returned by production deadline on Friday. The case will return to trial court to determine a litigation cost award.