A Hopkins County jury has awarded $42.75 million to a man's family that sued a Madisonville nursing home, saying the home's neglect led to the man's death, according to court documents.
The dead man was identified by Lexington attorney Lisa Circeo as Joseph Clint Offutt, 92, who stayed at Harborside of Madisonville for only nine days before he died. Circeo and Lance Reins represented the family.
"Offutt became lethally dehydrated despite having a feeding tube," said Circeo. "The facility simply failed to ensure he got enough water to live."
Offutt was at the Madisonville nursing home from March 25 to April 3, 2008. He was transferred to a regional medical center and died April 5, 2008, Circeo said.
"We feel the size of the verdict is outrageous and totally inappropriate based on the facts presented in the case," said Carol Britt, administrator of the facility. "Not only did we provide quality care to this individual, but the outsized punitive damages assessed against us bear no relation to our conduct. We intend to vigorously challenge the decision through the appeal process."
The facility is now called Hillside Villa Care and Rehabilitation Center.
Offutt's family filed the wrongful death lawsuit in 2009 against the nursing home and Sunbridge Healthcare Corp., which owns it.
The trial lasted three weeks and ended Tuesday, said Circeo, of Wilkes & McHugh law firm.
The family alleged that nursing home staff members neglected Offutt, causing him to suffer severe dehydration, malnutrition, bedsores, infections and, ultimately, death. Adult Protective Services officials of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services substantiated the allegations of neglect of Offutt, Circeo said.
Cabinet officials cannot comment on such cases, cabinet spokeswoman Beth Fisher said.
Documents from the cabinet's Office of Inspector General could not immediately be obtained Thursday. But Circeo provided a cabinet document that showed the nursing home received a citation for failing to prevent bedsores in the case of a 92-year-old man that Circeo said was Offutt. Circeo said the citation was not the state's most serious.
Offutt served in World War II and was still planting crops at age 88, Circeo said.
A stroke weakened him in 2007, and his wife of 58 years, Pearline, cared for him at home for eight months before the family realized he needed professional care.
The jury awarded $1 million for Offutt's pain and suffering, $1.75 million for his wife's loss and $40 million for punitive damages, according to court documents.