Jury hands down $3.3 million verdict against CO nursing home in negligence case

The family of a 77-year-old resident who died while living at a Colorado nursing home received $5.5 million in damages on Friday, in what was believed to be a record-setting verdict.

The family of Sophia Alcon claimed she suffered “repeated instances of abuse and neglect” between her admission to Life Care Center of Pueblo in Pueblo, CO, in April 2013 and her death in November of that year. Alcon’s family filed a lawsuit in January 2015, claiming the facility’s neglect led to multiple infections, bed sores, unexplained bruising, dehydration, malnutrition and ultimately her death.

George Alcon, Sophia’s son who originally brought the lawsuit, was unanimously awarded $500,000 in damages related to Alcon’s death, $57,000 in economic damages for negligence and another $5 million in punitive damages.

Those damages are believed to be “record-setting” for a wrongful death suit against a nursing home, Brent Moss, the family’s attorney, said in a press release. Moss also noted that no corporate representatives or witnesses appeared at the trial on behalf of the facility’s parent company, Life Care Centers of America Inc., which may have impacted the jury’s award.

“At the end of the day, we had a jury that really didn’t like this company putting profits ahead of patient care and then failing to come to Pueblo to answer for any of the poor care, gaps in the charting, and the staffing shortages,” Moss said.

In a statement to local news outlet KOAA 5, Keith Jackson, executive director of Life Care Center of Pueblo, said the facility’s legal team will appeal the ruling.

“ … due to the ongoing judicial process and HIPAA, we cannot provide further information regarding this lawsuit or other cases,” Jackson said. “As they proceed, we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing quality resident care.”

Two additional wrongful death lawsuits are currently pending against the facility, KOAA 5 reported.

Alcon’s case makes for the second nursing home lawsuit in Pueblo to come to a multi-million dollar conclusion in recent years. In 2014, a jury awarded $3.3 million to an 82-year-old resident and his family after finding Belmont Lodge Health Care Center guilty of “recurrent negligence” that led to bed sores, urinary tract infections, skin tears and significant weight loss.