The skilled nursing care given by Blue Ridge Health Care Center and management companies Care Virginia Management LLC and Care One LLC was grossly negligent, intentional or in reckless disregard of the rights of three nursing home patients, a North Carolina federal jury determined, and ordered the companies to pay the families of the three deceased residents $5.2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
The jury found that the companies’ actions caused the deaths of Del Ray Baird, Elizabeth Jones, and Bettie May Kee. Baird’s estate was awarded $50,000, and the estates of Jones and Kee were each awarded $300,000 in compensatory damages. All three estates also received about $1.5 million in punitive damages.
The complaint, which was originally filed in North Carolina state court and later removed to federal court, alleged that the three nursing home residents required ventilator or tracheotomy tubes. The patients were able to repeatedly remove the tubes on their own without medical staff intervention. Alarms were supposed to alert medical staff of the residents pulling out their tubes but those alarms were either turned off automatically or manually by staff.
The complaints also alleged that the nursing home administered anti-anxiety medication without proper monitoring. The patients also suffered multiple falls and developed numerous infections as a result of substandard care.
In May, U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle refused to toss the lawsuit based on the companies’ claims, stating that there were genuine issues for which the nursing home and its staff could be held liable, including wrongful death.