Generally, the most appalling cases we receive are ones in which the injuries our client sustains are the result of intentional acts, rather than an accident or case of negligence.
Our client was a patient at a nursing home. She was in a section of the nursing facility where patients require complete care. She fully relied on the employees of the facility for all her daily needs. Our client was not able to speak and had a limited ability to communicate.
One morning during her stay, a CNA (certified nursing assistant) at the home walked past our client’s room and suspected something wasn’t right. She entered the room and saw a sexual assault in progress. She made no attempt to stop the assault. She left the room and went to another part of the facility. On her way down the hall, she passed her supervising nurse, but said nothing to him about what she had just witnessed. When she arrived at another part of the facility, she reported what she saw to another CNA. They did not intervene in or report the assault to anyone else in the facility, and instead called a nursing supervisor who was not working that evening. Calls were then made to the Director of Nursing, the administrator of the facility, and eventually, to the police.
Upon arriving on scene, the EMS reported that our client was unresponsive to their commands, but responded to her daughter with some hand movement. After an initial evaluation, she was transported to a hospital, where she underwent an intensive and highly intrusive forensic examination. The assailant made a full confession to assaulting our client. He was convicted of one count of rape.
An expert witness opined that the standard of care was clearly violated by not stopping the assault, by allowing it to continue, and by not attending to our client in the immediate aftermath of the assault. Further, multiple reports of questionable behavior by the assailant should have been investigated prior to this incident. The case was presented to a jury on the issues of negligence and sexual battery.
After a five-day trial, the Albemarle Circuit Court jury reached a verdict of $1.75 million against the nursing home.
The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia, who remanded the case for a new trial. The case was later settled for the verdict amount.