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

The families of three deceased nursing home residents were awarded more than $5.2 million last week by a federal jury who found the care provided by the facility and its operators to be grossly negligent.

The families of residents Del Ray Baird, Elizabeth Jones and Bettie Mae Kee filed the lawsuit against the now-defunct Blue Ridge Health Care Center in Raleigh, NC, and operators CareOne and CareVirginia in 2014, claiming the providers’ negligence contributed to their deaths.

Baird died in late 2011 after his respirator and its alarms were reportedly turned off, according to court documents. Jones died in 2012, six hours after being admitted to the facility. Kee also died in 2012 after developing issues staying connected to her respirator, according to the lawsuit.

In a verdict reached last Thursday a jury for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina sided with the families, agreeing that the residents’ deaths were caused by the medical negligence of the providers. The jury also found that Blue Ridge and CareOne’s conduct “was in reckless disregard of the [residents’] rights.”

Each residents’ estate was awarded $1.5 million in punitive damages in the case, along with $50,000 in compensatory damages for Baird’s family and $300,000 for the families of Jones and Kee.

A request for comment from CareOne, and questions on whether the company plans to appeal the verdict, were not returned by press time Tuesday.