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Arkansas Jury Awards $5.2 Million to Family of Elder Abuse Victim

Nursing home neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report of a recent verdict out of Faulkner County, Arkansas surrounding the death of a nursing home resident. The woman’s family was awarded $5.2 million in damages after the jury determined the nursing home was negligent in her treatment.

The woman, Martha Bull, was 76 years old when she entered Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where she was to spend only one month after suffering a stroke. She was admitted on March 28, 2008, and died on April 7.

On the night of April 6, nine days after being admitted, Bull began complaining of severe pain in her abdomen. She was sweating profusely and was unable to have a bowel movement, however nothing was done to alleviate her pain. When that shift ended, she complained of her pain to the new shift of nurses and doctors, and a physician was finally called in by the afternoon of April 7.

The doctors sent an order for her to be immediately transferred to an emergency room for evaluation. She had a history of stroke and abdominal abscess, which is a pocket of infected fluid located inside the stomach. The condition is only treatable with immediate medical attention. If it is not immediately drained, the abscess can spread or rupture and infect the bloodstream and major internal organs.

The director of nursing at Greenbrier received the physician’s fax around 3:30 p.m. on April 7, but was leaving for the day at that time, and forwarded the fax to another wing. No one ever received that fax, however, and Bull was never sent to the emergency room, despite her constant cries for help. Her screams were so loud, in fact, that residents on the floors above and below her complained of the noise.

Bull was found unresponsive just before 10:30 p.m. that night, and the fax the director of nursing forwarded was not discovered until April 8. Greenbrier did not apologize to Bull’s family until the trial began, four years after her death.

Bull’s two daughters filed the lawsuit against Greenbrier, which is controlled by Central Arkansas Nursing Centers, a for-profit private company. Ultimately, the jury unanimously decided that the nursing home was guilty of negligence, medical malpractice, and violation of resident rights.

Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms: physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and financial. A great deal of abuse and neglect is carried out by members of the facility staff, such as nurses and aids. However, the possibility of threats coming from other residents should never be overlooked.

Recently, at a nursing home in Georgia, three female residents allege that they were sexually assaulted by two male residents. The facility’s management called local law enforcement and conducted an internal investigation into the allegations. No charges were filed, however, although one of the accused moved from the home.

No matter what the circumstance, it is required by law for nursing home employees to report all allegations of abuse or neglect to police, usually within 24 hours. Many states legally require a handful of other occupations to immediately report any cases of elder abuse, such as clergy members, social workers, and finance professionals. A law in Colorado, for example, requires that anyone who fails to report senior abuse could face a class three misdemeanor charge for knowing disregard.

Nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins have decades of experience advocating on behalf of our nation’s seniors. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a nursing home, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to compensation for any medical bills and emotional distress.