A long-awaited ruling was handed down this week by a West Virginia circuit judge upholding the $91.5 million damage award against Heartland of Charleston nursing home. The suit was brought by the son of an 87-year-old woman who died of dehydration complications encountered during a 19-day stay at the facility in 2009.
An article in the West Virginia Gazette reported that the massive levy was imposed to punish Heartland’s corporate owner, HCR Manor Care, for “intentionally short-staffing nursing homes to maximize profit.”
Heartland administration had argued that the woman passed away 18 days after leaving the facility and that the official cause of death had been dementia.
Manor Care’s lawyers believe that the damage award should be limited to the state’s $500,000 medical malpractice cap. They will appeal the judgment to the West Virginia Supreme Court.