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Jury awards $50 million in wrongful death lawsuit. (Market Watch).

A wrongful death suit against Heartland of Clarksburg, W. Va., and its parent company, Toledo, Ohio-based Manor Care, Inc., has resulted in one of the largest civil monetary damage awards in the state's history.

In November, a Harrison County, W. Va. jury awarded the family of Toni Meredith $50 million in compensatory damages after she died at Heartland in 1998 from an infected gall bladder.

A secret agreement struck during the trial, however, capped the award at $5 million. The agreement also prohibits appeals. Judge Thomas Bedell ended the trial before punitive damages were considered because the award exceeded the agreed-upon cap.

The 57-year-old Meredith had been admitted to the facility while recovering from Guillain-Barre syndrome. The suit alleged that Heartland was understaffed, resulting in the resident's infected gall bladder going undiagnosed until it was too late to save her, according to plaintiff attorney Jim Bordas.

Steve Houghton, an attorney representing Heartland and Manor Care Inc., said his client is "disappointed with the verdict insofar as [it] felt [it has] provided quality care since 1978."

Heartland of Clarksburg released a statement through Manor Care's director of marketing communications sympathizing with the Meredith family. "We are disappointed with the outcome of this case," Heartland's statement said, "but we accept the jury's verdict and do not intend to appeal. Although the incident occurred over four years ago, we feel that the center and staff acted appropriately in providing the proper care for this resident."
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Author:Pagan, Joyce
Publication:Contemporary Long Term Care
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2002
Words:242
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