In West Virginia, the wheels of justice far too often grind far too slowly. Citizens in other states have similar complaints, as a North Carolina woman would surely testify.
She filed a lawsuit charging that nursing home abuse and neglect led directly to her mother's death in 2007. Though a jury did not weigh in on her side during a 2011 trial, the daughter has not given up on her pursuit of justice.
She has appealed the decision involving the Chapel Hill nursing home, arguing that the judge in the case wrongly excluded testimony and also gave the jury instructions that essentially gave it a shortcut around the deliberative process.
The daughter argues in her lawsuit that a nurse's aide improperly lifted her 95-year-old mother and broke both her legs. The nursing home, the suit alleges, then failed to treat her elderly resident's condition for two weeks, which led to her death after she was taken to a hospital.
The attorneys for the nursing home argued that there was no evidence that the aide broke the woman's legs. It pointed out that elderly people with osteoporosis sometimes suffer spontaneous bone fractures.
The daughter argues that the judge in the case wrongly excluded an administrative law judge's conclusions that the nurse's aide caused the fractures.
She also argues that the judge's instructions to the jury "short-circuited the deliberative process." She says the instructions began and ended deliberations with a single question: Was the nurse's aide responsible for the fractures?
When the jury decided that, no, the aide had not caused the fractures, they ended their deliberations. They did not even consider whether or not the nursing home's failure to treat the woman's fractures might have been responsible for her death, nor did they consider any other element of possible negligence or medical malpractice.
It's impossible to know how the case will turn out, but the daughter's perseverance and dedication to the memory of her mother is remarkable.
Source: Herald Sun, "Daughter appeals nursing home jury verdict," Jan. 25, 2013
- Our Charleston law firm represents clients with loved ones across West Virginia who have been harmed by nursing home abuse or neglect that results in injury or death.