Provider: Judge improperly prodded $14 million award

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Nursing home broke federal labor law by posting memo urging staff unity, NLRB finds
Nursing home broke federal labor law by posting memo urging staff unity, NLRB finds

Representatives of a now-defunct Massachusetts nursing home say they will appeal a jury's $14 million award to the family of a former resident who died in 2008, partly because they feel a judge inappropriately prodded jurors into an inflated figure.

Superior Court Judge Peter B. Krupp told the jury that punitive damages could be awarded to send a message to the nursing home industry as a whole. As a result, jurors called for $12.5 million in punitive damages. The rest was for compensatory damages.

It is the largest nursing-home related verdict in Massachusetts in at least 10 years, according to a trade publication that tracks the state's jury awards.

Lawyers for Radius HealthCare in Danvers, MA, admitted at trial that a lapse in care had occurred regarding 90-year-old Genevieve Calandro. But they denied that caused her death. 

After falling out of her wheelchair at the facility in July 2008, Calandro was examined by hospital doctors and found to have a urinary tract infection so severe it had invaded her bloodstream, kidney failure, uncontrolled diabetes, acute appendicitis, severe dehydration and a festering pressure sore on her back. She died the next month.

Radius and four related nursing-home management companies have since gone out of business, according to a report from the Boston Globe.

Krupp informed the jury of the business closures before it started deliberations on punitive damages. He also told jurors they could levy a damage amount to not only punish one operator's bad behavior but also make other nursing providers take notice.

Defense attorney Lawrence Kenney said Radius admitted to a non-fatal “breach” in the standard of care Calandro received, according to the Globe report. But he argued that such large damages were not warranted.

Kenney also said that Radius would file an appeal based both on the judge's jury instructions and about the amount of the award. No company officers testified at the trial because the company has gone out of business.