HCR ManorCare facility must pay damages in negligence case

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Editor's Note: This story has been updated with a response from HCR ManorCare.

HCR ManorCare will have to pay punitive damages in a negligence and abuse case filed by a resident of its Hemet, CA facility, an appeals court ruled this week.

The case will now return to trial court to decide the amount of punitive damages for the plaintiff, John Jarman. He filed the complaint against HCR ManorCare and ManorCare of Hemet after he was admitted for three months in 2008 after breaking his leg.

Jarman, who was represented by his daughter in the case following his death, claimed that the facility failed to provide him with the assistance with daily activities he required. Instead, the lawsuit argues, the facility neglected and ignored Jarman, and failed to take preventative action when he was noted to be “a high risk for skin breakdown.”

A jury trial found that ManorCare committed nearly 400 violations of Jarman's rights, was was negligent in its conduct. Jarman was awarded $95,000 in statutory damages, as well as $100,000 in damages caused by negligence. The jury also found that ManorCare had “acted with malice, oppression or fraud,” but that finding was struck down by the court for insufficient evidence.

A spokeswoman for ManorCare declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In an opinion published Tuesday, the Court of Appeal of the State of California found that the trial court erred by striking the jury's finding of malice, oppression or fraud.

“The sheer number of violations found by the jury, during the course of Jarman's three-month stay in the ManorCare facility, provides a sufficient basis to infer that Manor Care was acting with a conscious disregard of Jarman's rights and safety during that time,” wrote Associate Justice Eileen C. Moore.

Moore added that the court was “unpersuaded” by ManorCare's argument that Jarman could only recover a single measure of statutory damages.