California Elder Abuse Lawsuit Results in $7.75M Award

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By: AboutLawsuits | Published: December 22nd, 2009

The family of a 71-year-old stroke victim was awarded $7.75 million earlier this month in an elderly abuse lawsuit filed over problems at a California nursing home.

The complaint was brought by the family of Maria Arellano after a hidden video camera captured Monica Garcia, a former employee at Fillmore Convalescent Center in Ventura County, Calif., slapping and abusing Arellano.

A state court jury awarded the family $2.75 million in actual damages and $5 million in punitive damages against Garcia, Fillmore Convalescent Center and the facility’s owner, Eduardo Gonzalez.

In 2006, family members noticed what they considered to be suspicious bruises on Arrellano’s body, and they were concerned that she may be a victim of elder abuse by nursing home staff. Arellano was unable to speak as a result of a stroke, and the family alleged that they set up a hidden camera in her room after the center failed to investigate the suspected abuse.

The nursing home hidden camera video caught Garcia slapping Arellano, pulling her by her hair and performing other acts of physical abuse. Garcia plead no contest to batter charges in February and was placed in a work release program. She no longer works as a nursing home care provider.

On December 11, the Ventura County jury found Garcia to be 20% responsible, the center 40% responsible, and Gonzalez 40% responsible for Arellano’s abuse. According to a report in the Ventura County Star, the family said they offered to settle for $500,000 before trial, but their offers were rebuffed.

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There Are 2 Comments So Far • (Add Your Comments)

  1. My mother was killed from the negligence of Sun Healthcare Group Inc along with four other patients I was familiar with in 2003-2004 after we complained of shoddy care, lack of staffing and broken equipment (thermometers; blood pressure monitors and HVAC system). Families pleaded in front of the Newport Beach City Council in September, 2003 and my mother was harmed in October, 2003. Doctor told me in June, 2006 “those bastxxxds killed your mother”. I have no doubt. When I sued for wrongful death my attorney was apparently working for SUN. He passed on direct threats to me from the CEO of Sun in mediation causing me to sign off on only a fraud charge. Unbeknownst to me he’d dropped wrongful death and elder abuse -yet we could easily prove the willful misconduct of the CEO and Risk Manager. I sued that attorney for malpractice 7 months later. But he died in his sleep 2 weeks later at age 59 of diabetes (?). I won that lawsuit -he hadn’t even consulted with a medical professional about my mother’s records.

  2. I really feel bad and so saddened for all of you who have lost a love one or had them hurt in a nursing home. I know how you feel for I am getting over the lost of my mother July 17, 2010. My mother was in a nursing home which we had many problems with, when I would come to she her she would be laying in her own urine. Than she develop a bedsore, than dehydration, pneumonia 3 different time and also constant UTI’s. I would try and come to the nursing home everday to check on my mother. I once went to the nursing home and before entering the home I could hear things loud breathe sounds called Rhoni coming from the room. Went in the room and found my mother behind a closed curtain having trouble breathing. My mother had a feeding tube which meant her head should always be at a 45 degree angle, but her head was flat. I called for the DON and the charge nurse to come see my mothers condition I ask them to take vital signs and do a o2 sat. I than called my daughter who is a nurse and my sister who is also a nurse. My mothers 02sat was 84, my daughter and sister came they turned off the feeding and placed my mother in a upright position, suctioned her and her 02sat went to 97. My daughter called the doctor and had my mother removed to a hospital, she had pneumonia, dehydration, UTI. This was only one of many. many occurance of the substandard care my mother receive. That last time I went and found my mother respirations were 52 and no one had done anything for her, I had the charge nurse call 911 and this time my mother never came out, she died My mother was in respiratory failure, had pneumonia with an effusion and was septic, we had to watch our mother die for two weeks, one week on a respirator, than on a rebreather mask than finally we had to make the decision no one should ever have to make, to let her go. I’m not saying the name of this nursing home because my family intends to take legal action. Someone needs to speak for the elderly a lot of people believe because their old why bother, but this is still someones love one and do not count on DHS to help you, we called them, they came out once and told my family it could take a year to investigate and while their dragging their feet our love one are dying in these nursing homes.

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