Nursing home ordered to pay $450,000 in wrongful death case citing resident's multiple falls

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A South Carolina jury has found Lexington Medical Center Extended Care guilty of gross negligence in the death of a resident said to have fallen more than 20 times.

Jurors awarded the family of Samuel B. Cunningham $450,000, including $200,000 for Cunningham's pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses, and $250,000 for the family's mental shock and suffering, wounded feelings and loss of companionship, The State reported.

Cunningham, who was blind and had dementia, was admitted to the facility on April 29, 2013, at age 81.

Nursing home records showed Cunningham suffered 26 falls, according to a press release from family attorney Ken Connor. On one occasion, Connor reported, Cunningham was found on the ground outside the building with multiple ant bites.

Later, Cunningham fell and required a hip replacement at Lexington Medical Center, which also operates the nursing home.

The suit claimed that Cunningham was admitted to Lexington Medical Center on July 1, 2015, suffering from skin breakdown, malnutrition, dehydration and infections. He died two weeks later.

In a statement, Lexington Medical Center told the newspaper that it "strives every day to meet the health care needs of our community, and as such, we do not agree with the allegations made in this case."

Spokeswoman Jennifer Wilson said she could not comment further because of patient privacy laws.