$32 Million Verdict in Nursing Home Negligence / Elder Abuse Case v. Life Care Services, LLC / Arbol Residences of Santa Rosa

Last week a jury in Santa Rosa, California, Sonoma County, issued a negligence, elder abuse, abandonment, and neglect verdict totaling more than $32,084,777 against the owners and operators of Arbol Residences of Santa Rosa. Our 88-year-old client was a dependent and disabled elder with dementia, profound hearing loss, and high fall risk. Plaintiff made the following allegations during trial. Plaintiff was neglected, abused, and abandoned by defendants from June 2019 to September 2020. During that time, she suffered between 20 and 25 falls while in defendants’ care. Defendants did not properly address each fall to mitigate the risk or eliminate future falls.

Despite significant risks and probability of a wildfire, defendants were ill-prepared for that danger. They did not have a proper disaster evacuation plan; they had not properly trained their employees for natural disaster evacuations and had not made proper agreements with other facilities to help them transfer residents in case of a natural disaster.

In October 2019, Arbol had to be evacuated due to the Kincade fire. Defendants evacuated our client to a facility 80 miles south of Santa Rosa, CA where she was housed, unsupervised, with 44 other residents. In a 7-hour period she suffered two unwitnessed falls. She fractured her left arm during the second unwitnessed fall. Defendants were unable to identify who was in the room with the residents during the two falls. After being returned from the emergency room, defendants failed to pick-up her pain medication. She was not given pain medication for 15 hours after returning to Defendants’ care. At 10:30 p.m., they decided to put our client in a non-medical transport and send her 80 miles north to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

A doctor at Santa Rosa Memorial ER and a nurse were so concerned about this reckless act that they contacted defendants’ employee to express their concern. They also contacted Adult Protective Services. Our client was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial with a fresh humerus bone fracture, without any medication, without her hearing aids or a safe discharge plan. Defendants did not know who transferred her to the transport vehicle and released her for the ride 80 miles north toward the wildfire that was still raging. Defendants failed to properly track her after the initial transfer. She was transferred approximately 7 times after that and was without her hearing aids for 11 days. When transferring our client 80 miles north, defendants’ employee believed that our client was suffering from a stroke. Despite this concern, she was not sent to the closest trauma center.

These events caused our client to suffer a significant decline during the last years of her life. Defendants denied liability and contended that they should not have to pay punitive damages. The jury awarded $10,084,777 for the personal injuries and trauma our client suffered. They also awarded $22,000,000 in punitive damages against Life Care Services, LLC the company that operated Arbol Residences of Santa Rosa during the pertinent time.

Our client was represented by Shahrad Milanfar, Donavon Sawyer, and Molly Ryan of the Milanfar Law Firm, PC. Shahrad Milanfar stated: “This was a vindication for the elderly and dependent adults who are in nursing homes. The residents of these facilities are in a protected class and have legal rights that the facilities must honor. Arbol Residences of Santa Rosa failed on many levels and the jury held them accountable. We are fortunate to have been our client’s voice in this case. Hopefully, the defendants finally see her as a human being.”

For more information on this verdict, you can contact the trial lawyers at Milanfar Law Firm, PC. Milanfar Law Firm, PC represents individuals in Personal Injury, Nursing Home Abuse, Police Brutality, and Civil Rights cases. To contact us please call (925) 433-6003