A Kentucky jury has awarded $7.5 million in a nursing home neglect lawsuit brought by a woman who was left on the floor with open wounds in a puddle of urine after falling, with nurses refusing to move her.
The lawsuit was filed in Laurel Circuit Court by Grace Fulgate against Hillcrest Nursing Home. Fulgate fell at the Kentucky nursing home in August 2003 while a resident.
According to the complaint, Fugate was in the nursing home while recovering from knee replacement surgery. She asked an aide to help her get to a bedside commode, but the aide refused, saying Fugate could do it herself. The aide then lowered the guard rails on the bed, helped Fugate get her legs over the edge, and then left her to her own devices.
Fugate, suffering from stress incontinence, fell off of the toilet, causing her knee to open up and was found laying with urine on the floor entering the knee wound. However, the complaint alleges that Hillcrest staffers were afraid to move her until paramedics arrived, and left her laying there. Fugate lost so much blood before help arrived that she had to be resuscitated. She was hospitalized for two months, had to undergo several additional surgeries as a result of the nursing home fall injury and ultimately had to have her leg amputated as a result of an infection.
At the nursing home neglect trial, Fugate had to have her testimony submitted by video due to her failing health.
The jury awarded her $383,097.95 for past medical expenses, $766,195.90 for future medical expenses, and $1 million for physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering. They also issued a $5 million punitive damages award against Hillcrest, which is rare in a lawsuit over nursing home negligence.