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The Nursing Home Reform Act was passed by Congress in 1987 and states that a “nursing facility must provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being of each resident” without providing specific staffing levels for nurses or aides. This sometimes creates the perfect storm for elderly abuse and neglect, as was the case for Elma Betty Temple.

Temple, an 81-year-old patient at Providence Care Center fell at the nursing home, more than once. But, during the last fall she fractured a shoulder and hip after getting up from her seat in the dining area to access the ramp.

For months after the fall she endured pain without any real understanding as to why. It took the jury less than two hours to award her son, James, $2 million for negligence that caused his mother’s “pain and suffering.” The amount is far greater than jurors have awarded for a nursing home injury. Another $250,000 in punitive damages was added to the settlement the next day for recklessness by Providence Care Center.

It’s quite rare for any nursing home lawsuit to go to trial regardless of the outcome. They are complex and complicated cases. The fact that the vast majority are not only elderly but sickly makes it that much more complicated to navigate.

It’s been almost five years since Temple fell; she remains a resident of the dementia unit at Providence Care Center.

The jurors, as in any other civil injury lawsuit, were not given instructions concerning the amount to accompany any decision in favor of the Temples.

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