A jury in the case of BUMGARDNER vs. GATES HEALTH SERVICES, INC., a/k/a GATES HEALTH CARE SERVICES, INC., a South Dakota Corporation, d/b/a FIRESTEEL HEALTH CARE CENTER, in a town of about 15,000 people in eastern South Dakota answered that question for us yesterday. In South Dakota, she is worth at least $500,000.
The resident was approaching her 101st birthday when a CNA carelessly dropped her, fracturing her hip and shoulder and banging her head (subcutaneous hematoma). She lived 31 painful days following the fall. The Death Certificate, for some unknown reason, listed death as natural causes due to congestive heart failure and pneumonia. The Death Certificate was signed by the very same doctor who was the medical director for the nursing home. Has he ever heard of conflict of interest?
Nursing home admitted liability–sort of–approximately 10 days before trial. "Sort of" because they admitted that they violated physician’s order by not having a 2-assist for the transfer, but claimed her hip had fractured "spontaneously" causing her to begin to fall, and if they’d had 2 assists she would not have hit the floor, but all they were responsible for was the shoulder and the bump on the head. They also denied that the fall caused her death.
Jury gave $400,000 on the survival action and $100,000 on the wrongful death claim.