Nursing home slapped with $1.5 million fine over smoking policy enforcement, supervision

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A Virginia nursing home faces a $1.45 million verdict in a negligence suit involving a former resident who sustained severe burns.

The resident, Joseph Roberts, brought the charges in 2011. In June of that year, he sustained severe burns while residing at Carriage Hill Health & Rehabilitation Center in Fredericksburg. Staff allegedly left Roberts unattended outside the facility while he smoked a cigarette, which led to the fire, according to local reports.

Roberts died in June 2013, at the age of 49. The cause of death was not related to his burns.

Carriage Hill was negligent in leaving Roberts alone, the suit contended. He was on pain medication and wheelchair-bound at the time of the incident, but staff discovered him on the ground with his sweatpants on fire, according to court papers. The center also has a no-smoking policy, and inspections after the incident cited the facility for not enforcing that policy consistently.

Carriage Hill “is committed to providing safe and professional care” and may appeal, according to defense attorney Juliane Miller of the Hudgins Law Firm.  

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