Part II - California Court of Appeal Caps Patient Rights Claims in Elder Abuse Cases at $500

The case of Samuel Nevarrez v. San Marino Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre et al., began in March 2009 when a 79-year old patient was admitted to San Marino (defendants and appellants) for rehabilitation. Upon admission, Nevarrez (plaintiff and respondent) "was alert, but had difficulty standing and walking and was at a high risk of falling." During his stay at the nursing facility, Nevarrez fell nine times. In one of his falls, Nevarrez hit his head on a wall, requiring him to undergo brain surgery for a subdural hematoma. He later suffered a stroke. San Marino self-reported the incident to the California Department of Public Health, which resulted in an issuance of a class "A" citation against the facility for failing to prevent Nevarrez's fall. In April 2010, Nevarrez filed a complaint alleging elder abuse, negligence, violation of the Patient's Bill of Rights, willful misconduct, and violation of Penal Code section 368.

The case went to trial and the jury found six violations of the Patient's Bill of rights. The jury also found San Marino and Country Villa each 40% negligent and Nevarrez 20% comparatively negligent. On the elder abuse cause of action, the jury found that Nevarrez's injuries were the result of reckless neglect. The jury awarded Nevarrez approximately $1.2 million for past medical expenses, $200,000 for future medical expenses, and $3,000,000 in general damages. The court also awarded Nevarrez $7,000 as civil penalties ($500 for each of the 14 violations of the Patient's Bill of Rights) and $952,142,50 in attorney fees. San Marino filed a timely appeal.

Stay tuned for more on this topic on our subsequent blog.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.

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