Florida jury delivers $1.1 billion verdict

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A Florida jury has awarded $1.1 billion in damages to the family of a former nursing facility resident. The amount is believed to be one of the highest ever leveled against a nursing home.

Arlene Townsend was admitted to Auburndale Oaks Healthcare Center in Auburndale, FL, in 2004. After she died at the age of 69, her son filed suit, alleging that she often fell at the Auburndale facility and received poor supervision, said local reports.  

Trans Healthcare Inc. was named as defendant. It argued that it operated the nursing facility only until Sept. 30, 2004, The Ledger newspaper reported. The company stopped participating in the lawsuit, resulting in a default judgment against it in 2011. 

The jury was charged with determining the damages owed, not liability. It reportedly deliberated for an hour, returning a verdict of $110 million in compensatory and $1 billion in punitive damages. 

Calls to defense attorneys in the case were not returned.

Auburndale is under operational/managerial control of Encore Healthcare LLC and Ridge Crest Health Care LLC has a 5% or more ownership interest, according to Nursing Home Compare.