305-670-1101 Ext. 1023
QPWB’s First Trial in 2005 Ends with Defense Verdicts
for ALF and Administrator
Fort Lauderdale, FL – On March 11th, 2005 a Fort Lauderdale jury returned Defense Verdicts on behalf of an Assisted Living Facility (ALF), Homewood Residence, and its Administrator, Freda Wallace. Defendants were represented by Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., trial attorney Peter Molinelli (Tampa Office).
The lawsuit was brought by George Divita, nephew and Personal Representative of the Estate of Rosina Adamo, deceased. The case involved the appropriateness of placement of an 82 year old, somewhat confused, elderly woman, Rosina Adamo, who sustained a fractured hip when she fell on her way to the bathroom at the ALF. She died approximately one month after undergoing hip surgery to repair the fracture.
Fenster & Faerber, P.A., who represented the Plaintiff at trial, argued that Ms. Adamo was not appropriate for ALF placement because she needed 24-hour nursing supervision, a service not provided for her at Homewood. The Plaintiff introduced the Form 1823, which indicated the need for full-time nursing care. Other medical records showed that Ms. Adamo exhibited signs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, conditions which Homewood staff were not prepared to handle. The Plaintiff took the position that it was the ALF’s improper admission of Ms. Adamo and their inability to properly care for Ms. Adamo that led to her fall and painful fracture of her hip less than one month after her admission to Homewood.
While Ms. Adamo did have some signs of Dementia, the QPWB Defense team argued that she was appropriate for placement based on both the assessment of the facility and the independent assessments of the discharging facility and physicians. During the trial, the Defense successfully cross-examined the Plaintiffs and their expert to undercut testimony regarding placement and retention issues. QPWB’s defense also presented the testimony of the Defendant and former Administrator, Freda Wallace, who testified as to the quality of care provided to Ms. Adamo and that during the majority of her residency, she was mentally sharp, alert and aware of her surroundings.
After a short one and a half hour deliberation, the jury returned Defense Verdicts for both the ALF and Administrator.
This marks back-to-back victories in ALF trials where the plaintiff’s theory of liability focused on the appropriateness of placement or continued placement of the resident at such facility. In each case, the plaintiffs have also attempted a “profits over people” theme as part of their presentation, suggesting to jurors that the particular ALF, and ALF’s in general, are admitting residents for which they are incapable of meeting their needs. In both instances, the QPWB’s defense was able to overcome Plaintiff’s negative portrayal of the facilities and industry by testimony from the facility members and other evidence demonstrating the assistance and care provided to the resident.
As the incidence of litigation against ALF’s for improper placement and retention appears to be increasing, Risk Management should educate facility staff to carefully consider placement of residents, including securing the necessary documentation and physician approval forms before admission to the ALF facility – failure to do so may result in costly litigation.