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Staten Island Jury Awards $6 Million in Nursing Home Wheelchair Fall Case

Staten Island Jury Awards $6 Million in Nursing Home Wheelchair Fall Case

James Romano was only supposed to stay at the Cloves Lakes Health Care and Rehabilitation Center (“CLHCRC”) on New York’s Staten Island for a short time. The 84-year-old fractured his back at home on April 1, 2011, and doctors thought he would return home within three or four weeks.

Instead, after falling out of a wheelchair and breaking his hip, Romano spent the rest of his life in the nursing home until dying three years later. On April 17, 2019, a jury awarded his widow, Delores Romano, $6 million for her husband’s injuries.

Nursing Home Negligence

His wife sued the nursing home, alleging they did not take any measures that would have prevented her husband from falling out of the wheelchair. That included no seat belts or other type of restraint in the wheelchair. The complaint alleged that CLHCRC was understaffed, and Romano was not adequately supervised at the time of the fall.

The Broken Hip

Romano fell at his home on April 1, 2011, and was brought to Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn two days later. He fell out of bed at the hospital on April 6, but did not mention hip pain to doctors there, who used the word “hip” in passing in their medical report. The following day, he was moved to CLHCRC. After falling from the wheelchair and breaking his hip a week later, Romano was taken to Staten Island University Hospital, receiving a partial hip replacement. He returned to CLHCRC on April 26, 2011, confined there due to his injury until his death on March 22, 2014. According to the lawyer representing Mrs. Romano, the injury made the last three years of his life very difficult, “stealing” time he could have spent with his wife and family.

The nursing home, however, alleged that Romano actually broke his hip when he fell out of bed at Maimonides Medical Center, and when he was brought to their facility, the broken hip was a “pre-existing condition.” The jury didn’t buy that argument, taking just two hours to reach their verdict and award the plaintiff $6 million. The verdict was unanimous. Romano had not spoken of hip pain until falling out of the wheelchair.

Nursing Home Inspection Report

A Medicare profile for the CLHCRC reported a total of four deficiencies in recent years, with severity scores of D and E. A D score means “no actual harm, but potential for more than minimal harm that doesn’t pose immediate jeopardy.” An E score has the same criteria as the D score but indicates a pattern is developing. The incidents involved residence incontinence and dental health.  

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Related topics: nursing home neglect (60) | substandard care (67)

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