A major national nursing home operator, Trans Healthcare Inc., just lost a crucial nursing home neglect case in Florida. The case is noteworthy because of the size of the recent jury verdict: $110 million in compensatory damages and a shocking $1 billion in punitive damages.

The case revolves around the 2009 death of Arlene Townsend. Townsend was a resident at the Auburndale Oaks Healthcare Center from 2004 until 2007, when she passed away at 69. The lawsuit revealed how Townsend suffered 18 falls while living at the facility, all due to a lack of proper supervision. One fall was so severe it resulted in a hip fracture which was undiagnosed for more than a week. Townsend also suffered severe infections including C. diff, skin tears, malnutrition, dehydration and fecal impactions.

The case was brought by Townsend’s son and dealt with more than just the nursing home’s negligence in providing substandard care for its patients. The case also brought to light claims that Trans Healthcare’s investors had purposely conspired to turn the nursing home chain into an insolvent company, completely disregarding the safety of their patients.

The jury heard evidence of how no one on the firm’s Board of Directors was a health care professional, something that left patients open to danger. Moreover, the plaintiff’s lawyers demonstrated how certain actions to drain the company of cash were taken to make the company judgment proof. This is fourth major verdict against the company in the last several years. In 2010, Trans Healthcare lost a $114 million nursing home abuse case.

The eventual $1.1 billion verdict is believed to be one of, if not the largest, award ever against a nursing home operator. Whether the total will actually be collected for the family of Townsend remains to be seen.

Though it can undoubtedly be expensive to provide enough staff to properly care for patients, that’s the job nursing homes are tasked with. In an effort to maximize profits too many nursing homes skimp on proper protocols, which are necessary to ensure harm does not occur to vulnerable patients.

It’s important that you understand your legal options in pursuing a civil claim for damages. To help with that, consider reading my firm’s free report on nursing home abuse and neglect, which contains a discussion of the steps you can take if you suspect a loved one has been abused by the staff at a Virginia nursing home.

Here’s a video where one of our attorneys, Mark F., discusses what to do if you suspect a loved one has been abused or neglected: