Sophie Schwartz may never be the same. She was just a 94-year-old woman trying to enjoy the twilight of her life when a dietary aide at her nursing home sexually molested her in the middle of the night. The aide was an illegal immigrant (the nursing home appears to have failed to perform a standard background check) who abused their power by gaining access to Ms. Schwartz’s room with an all-access key.
Fortunately, Ms. Schwartz was able to receive justice when a jury awarded her $12.5 million for general damages and “punitive damages.” Essentially, punitive damages are a form of punishment against the defendant (i.e. the negligent nursing home). We applaud the jury’s verdict. It sends a strong, clear message that nursing home abuse will not be tolerated.
In addition to the jury verdict, the dietary aide was convicted of sexual assault and is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence.
But an important aspect to this case, and to a majority of nursing home abuse situations, is the ability to recognize when abuse has occurred, or is occurring, against your loved one. It’s likely that a friend or family member noticed changes in Ms. Schwartz’s mood or behavior and suspected abuse. Without that recognition, justice may not have been served against the perpetrator of these horrible acts.
- Cuts, bruises, broken bones, sprains, or other physical signs that they are being hit or neglected.
- Overmedication, either to keep your loved one from needing attention or to keep them from reporting abuse or neglect.
- Sudden appearance of a venereal disease, bleeding or tearing in the genital region.