Nurse wins $500k award after slipping

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The importance of maintaining safe, dry flooring in a nursing home was the focal point of a recently decided lawsuit involving a Rhode Island facility.

A six-person jury rendered a $500,000 verdict against the state of Rhode Island and in favor of an agency nurse who was injured after slipping on a wet floor at a veterans nursing home.

The state plans to appeal the verdict, said Rhode Island Attorney General spokeswoman Amy Kemp on April 18, the day after Superior Court Justice Patricia Hurst denied a post-trial motion to dismiss. Kemp declined to give details on the appeal, which had to be filed within 20 days.

Lead plaintiff attorney Brian Cunha called the case “a wake-up call to all nursing home operators that they have to be vigilant in routinely inspecting and maintaining their premises.”

The state owns and operates the 260-bed R.I. Veterans Home in Bristol where licensed practical nurse Victoria Roach was injured.

While taking care of some medication administration, she slipped and fell on soapy water or cleaning fluid left on the floor of a resident's bathroom in a November 2008 incident. 

Ultimately, the jury agreed with the plaintiff team that the cleaning spill was not adequately taken care of before the injury, even though one or more aides was responsible for doing so. One or more certified nursing assistants also had failed to adequately inspect the area as required, plaintiff attorney Cunha said.

Roach's injuries included a torn ACL and torn meniscus, which required knee surgery. As a result, the per diem nurse was unable to return to work for an extended period of time.