Emeritus turns to high-profile law firm to appeal $23 million verdict

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Emeritus Senior Living has engaged high-profile attorneys in its bid to overturn the verdict handed down by a jury in March, under which Emeritus would have to pay nearly $23 million in punitive damages related to the death of a resident who had pressure wounds.

The case involves Joan Boice, a resident of an Emeritus assisted living facility in California. She should not have been admitted, due to her state of physical debilitation, according to the complaint against Emeritus. The suit also alleged that she developed severe pressure wounds while at the facility, where she died in 2008 at the age of 81.

A jury slapped Emeritus with $22,963,943.81 in punitive damages, adding on the 81 cents as an allusion to Boice's age when she died.

Emeritus has engaged a team of attorneys from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom to undertake the appeals process, according to the Seattle Times. The New York-based law firm employs about 1,800 attorneys worldwide, and the Emeritus team will include Clifford Sloan, who has argued six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Emeritus is arguing that the damages are “unconstitutional and unjustified,” and that plaintiffs showed the jury materials that were unrelated to the matter at hand. The next hearing will take place in Sacramento on May 31.