FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 22, 2006
Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305.670.1101 Ext. 1023
DEFENSE VERDICT IN DECUBITUS ULCER DEATH CASE
MIAMI – November 22, 2006 – After eight days of trial, a Miami jury returned a Defense Verdict in favor of Kendall Associates, and Kendall Healthcare Properties, Inc., the owner and licensee of The Palace at Kendall Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in a wrongful death case.
The case involved the 17-day residency of debilitated 82-year-old Ethel Leiner, deceased. Mrs. Leiner had been admitted to the Defendant facility for rehabilitation following a month-long hospitalization due to a myocardial infarction. The Plaintiff, Elizabeth Bularca, the daughter and Personal Representative of the Estate of Ethel Leiner, alleged that her mother was abused, neglected and suffered a painful bedsore on her sacral area. Plaintiffs argued that it was the Defendant’s failure to adequately turn and reposition a dependant Mrs. Leiner that allowed for the development of a Stage IV sacral ulcer exposing muscle and bone. The ulcer, the Plaintiffs claimed, ultimately became infected and caused Mrs. Leiner’s death.
The Plaintiffs relied on the testimony of three of Mrs. Leiner’s treating physicians (a primary care physician, a cardiologist and an infectious disease specialist) all of whom opined that the immediate cause of death was Sepsis; due to or as a consequence of an infected sacral ulcer that developed at the Defendant facility. The Plaintiff’s nursing expert testified that the Defendant facility failed to follow its own policy and procedure to turn and reposition a resident who was at risk for the development of decubitus ulcers. She found only two instances where the staff documented “turning and repositioning,” and both instances were after the sacral ulcer had already developed.
The Defendants argued that Mrs. Leiner was treated properly and that the painful sacral ulcer she suffered was unpreventable due to her underlying medical condition, which included a previous heart attack, stroke, aspiration pneumonia and immobility.
Expert physicians for the Defense explained to the jury a significant error and inconsistency in the treating physicians’ conclusions; that “Sepsis was the cause of death.” The Defense presented strong evidence, including blood culture samples all of which had produced negative results for the same bacteria that the treating physicians said had caused the Sepsis. In fact, the treating cardiologist, in reviewing the blood cultures during cross-examination, admitted that he had made an error in his conclusion.
At closing argument, Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to return a verdict for the Plaintiff — an award of $800,000 on the wrongful death claim and $750,000 on the survival claim. The jury deliberated for just under one hour and returned a Defense Verdict on both claims.
Stephen Rosenthal of Podhurst, Orseck, Josefsberg, Eaton and Perwin, P.A., and Seth Miles of Grossman, Roth, Olin, Meadow, Cohen, Yaffa, Pennekamp & Cohen, P.A., tried the case on behalf of the Plaintiff.
Jane Thornton Mastrucci a partner in the Miami Office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., tried the case for the defense.
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is a civil defense firm with a wide variety of litigation services for healthcare companies, healthcare facilities, physicians and other healthcare licensed professionals and their insurers. The firm’s Litigation Department also provides general liability defense for all businesses, insureds and insurance companies. Our practice groups and industry-based teams ensure clients have access to attorneys with the best expertise, regardless of location. QPWB maintains a tightly integrated network of seven fully staffed offices, six in Florida and one in Mississippi with attorneys licensed in several states.