Nursing Home Choking Death Lawsuit Results in $2.35M Verdict

The family of a Michigan nursing home resident who choked to death on a meatball has been awarded $2.35 million as part of a wrongful death lawsuit

Walter Polomski, 56, was a resident at the Nightingale Nursing Center in Warren, Michigan, in March 2008, when he reportedly choked on a meatball the size of a golf ball.

According to the nursing home neglect lawsuit, Polomski suffered no or reduced airflow for 15 to 30 minutes before dying.

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The family’s attorney argued that Polomski should have never gotten access to the meatball because he suffered from problems swallowing, which the nursing home should have factored into his care. The meatball went down his trachea instead of his esophagus, causing him to choke.

According to the complaint, the nurse on duty in the dining room, who was supposed to be watching over the residents while they ate, was not trained in the Heimlich maneuver. She instead tried to wheel Polomski to a nurse’s station to get help while he choked. Adding to the problem, when another nurse tried to help, they attempted to force air into Polomski’s lungs, which only pushed the meatball down further.

Polomski choked on the meatball for 12 minutes before the nursing home called 9-1-1, the lawsuit alleged. When paramedics arrived they removed the meatball with forcepts, but Polomski died about four hours after the incident at a local hospital.

The lawsuit was filed by his brother, Richard Polomski, in Macomb County Circuit Court in Michigan.

Following trial, six of the eight jurors found that the nursing home and its management company, Sava Senior Care, Inc., were negligent and responsible for causing Polomski’s nursing home choking death.

The family was awarded $1.5 million for pain and suffering, and $850,000 for loss of past and future companionship. The award will be divided between Polomski’s brother, two adult children and one granddaughter.


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