The trial of a former El Dorado Care Center Director of Nursing ended the way many similar cases do: a hung jury and a discouraged prosecutor. This result isn’t going to be very surprising to anyone familiar with many elder abuse cases.
The facts of the case were relatively simple as provided by the Merced Sun Star. A 77-year-old woman who was suffering from dementia and other health problems was placed in the nursing home to recuperate from a bout of pneumonia. After just 13 days, she was transferred to a nearby hospital where she died. The hospital found that she had severe fecal impaction. The nursing home settled a wrongful death suit with the family of the victim for $2.9 million.
For the next six years, her husband carried on a crusade to bring the people who were responsible for his wife’s death to justice. Like virtually all families who bring nursing home neglect or wrongful death lawsuits against a nursing home, it’s never about the money. It’s about justice.
Eventually prosecutors arrested two employees. One employee copped a plea and testified against the other. That is the trial that just ended.
This was a case that seemed to have all the factors working for the prosecutor. The resident died quickly and with an obvious sign of neglect. The nursing home, wary of a trial, quickly settled for a large amount. One staff member was willing to testify to the actions of another.
In spite of the evidence, the 12 people on the jury could not agree on indisputable guilt.
Often, the incidents of nursing home abuse that are most deadly are acts of neglect. If a person assaults someone, or hits them with their care, people are comfortable assigning blame. But when the action that causes harm is inaction, people have a much more difficult time.
This is why it’s important to contact an experienced nursing home lawyer if you feel your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect in a nursing home. For many, it’s the only way that anyone will be held accountable for the injuries that have been suffered.