HAT Trial Team Receives Arbitrator’s Award

Michael Phillips, David Eaton and Katie Castle secured a defense verdict in an arbitration proceeding involving a North Carolina nursing home. The week-long hearing was tried before a three-member panel. The claimant alleged her husband was neglected, was allowed to lose significant weight and developed numerous bed sores that eventually led to sepsis and death. The claimant relied on photographs of over 20 bedsores her husband developed before death. She also presented testimony from family members and friends to corroborate her claims of abuse and neglect by the nursing home staff. The claimant had separate, individual claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process and obstruction of justice. These claims stemmed from an altercation with the claimant, resulting in the police being summoned to escort the claimant from the premises. 

The respondent defended the case by educating the panel that the decedent was admitted with numerous unstageable wounds, some of which had been open continuously for three years. Additionally, on admission, the decedent was noted to have a BMI of 13.5 and, as a 6’2” man, weighed a mere 97 pounds. Within two weeks of admission, the decedent was hospitalized with a UTI, which was a chronic issue for him. During this hospitalization, the decedent informed medical staff he was ready to pass away. When he returned to the nursing home, the decedent frequently refused meals; refused to be turned and repositioned; and refused to take medications. Due to his fragile skin and existing wounds, the facility placed him on a Dolphin mattress. The respondent presented evidence that, as the dying process progressed, the decedent’s skin began to fail, resulting in unavoidable wounds.