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

An 82-year-old skilled nursing facility resident and his family have been awarded $3.3 million by a Colorado jury after finding the Pueblo-based Belmont Lodge Health Care Center guilty of negligence.

The original lawsuit filed in 2013 said that James Sharon suffered from “recurrent negligence” during his three-year stay at the facility. His sister, Alice Franz, said this week he suffers from mild mental retardation and dementia and incurred additional health problems during his stay. “He wasn’t treated with dignity and respect,” she told a local news outlet.

According to the four-count complaint filed against the facility, its SavaSeniorCare corporate parent and others, Sharon suffered an array of injuries, including multiple bed sores, urinary tract infections, skin tears and abrasions, dehydration, malnutrition, hyperkalemia (high potassium), multiple infections including E. Coli, and significant weight loss.

The jury award includes $300,000 for negligence and $3 million for punitive damages.

The plaintiffs also alleged the facility violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act by conducting a “massive marketing campaign designed to lure actual and prospective consumers” while knowing “the facility was incapable of providing the level of care and treatment necessary to ensure the health, safety and well-being” of its residents.

The lawsuit also alleged Belmont inflicted emotional distress on Sharon by understaffing “in an attempt to increase the facility’s profitability.”

A phone call seeking comment from Belmont officials Wednesday evening was not immediately returned.