Nursing home operator faces setback in lawsuit that brought $30 million judgment against it

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An appeals court has ordered the retrial of a lawsuit in which a major nursing home chain had most of a $29.8 million punitive damages award against it thrown out. The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled last week that a Warren County Circuit Court judge had made a mistake two years ago when he reduced the damages amount to $163,000.

The appeals court also upheld more than $4 million of a $4.1 million compensatory damages award in the same negligence lawsuit. The original case was brought by family members for Cheatum Myers, an 88-year-old woman who died after alleged neglect at National Healthcare Corp.'s McMinnville facility.

National Healthcare Corporation Spokesman Gerald Coggin said the company planned to appeal the appellate court's findings. It has 60 days to formally request the Tennessee Supreme Court consider the case. Murfreesboro-based NHC had 73 facilities and more than 9,100 skilled nursing beds, making it the 11th largest nursing home chain in the country at the beginning of this year.