A superior court judge has upheld a $23 million verdict against Emeritus Senior Living and ordered the company to pay an additional $4.3 million in fees and costs to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, citing evidence that a former resident received abysmal care.
Joan Boice developed pressure sores while a resident at an Emeritus assisted living facility in Auburn, CA, according to court records. The 82-year-old Boice died a few months after leaving the facility’s memory care unit, and the pressure sores were listed on her death certificate as a contributing cause of death. That led to a lawsuit.
Judge Judy Holzer Hersher said the jury’s punitive damage award was justified due to “a high degree of reprehensibility” in the care Emeritus provided for Boice. Emeritus did not staff the memory care unit appropriately, caregivers doctored medication logs, and the company terminated staff members who questioned poor practices, Hersher wrote.
Emeritus argues that improper evidence was introduced at trial and that caps on payouts have not been properly observed. The company will appeal this ruling, a spokeswoman told the Sacramento Bee .
With total occupant capacity of 50,000, Emeritus is the nation’s largest assisted living provider, according to American Health Care Association data. The company recently engaged the services of high-profile law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom to lead the appeals process in the Boice case.