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Court Reverses Summary Judgment in Lawsuit Alleging that Negligence Caused Nursing Home Death

patient roomLawsuits arising in the context of nursing home death, abuse or neglect can sometimes involve multiple parties and several legal theories of liability. The various issues between the parties may be settled prior to trial by agreement, by the trial court through summary judgment, or at trial between the remaining parties.

A recent case from a nearby state illustrates some of the procedural hurdles that can arise when a nursing home patient is allegedly a victim of both nursing home neglect and medical malpractice by a physician practicing geriatric medicine.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was the administrator of the estate of a woman who allegedly died as a result of negligence while she was a patient at a Georgia nursing home in 2010. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the nursing home, a doctor, and others, asserting claims for wrongful death, pain and suffering, and negligence per se. The plaintiff sought both compensatory and punitive damages for the defendants’ alleged breach of the applicable standard of care and the decedent’s death, which the plaintiff alleged was causally connected to the defendant’s actions or inactions.

After the nursing home apparently settled out of court, the case proceeded against the defendant doctor on a medical negligence theory. Once discovery was conducted, the defendant doctor moved for summary judgment. The Superior Court of Laurens County, Georgia, granted the motion on the ground that the plaintiff had failed to show proximate cause.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

The Court of Appeals of Georgia reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant doctor, agreeing with the plaintiff that she had demonstrated that there were genuine issues of material fact to be decided by a jury. The court first noted that the gist of the plaintiff’s action was that the defendant doctor had failed to properly treat the decedent’s pressure ulcers and that this had led to her death.

The court then reviewed the deposition testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness, who argued that the defendant doctor had violated the standard of care by, among other things, failing to implement a proper wound care plan. Combined with testimony from the medical examiner that the cause of the decedent’s death was “sepsis resulting from ulcers,” the court found that there was a triable issue of material fact as to causation.

In a consolidated action, the court found no reversible error with regard to the trial court’s denial of the defendant doctor’s motion to exclude certain medical expert testimony proffered by the plaintiff.

Get Reliable Legal Advice About a Kentucky Nursing Home Case

If you have a loved one whom you believe has been hurt or has passed away because of the neglect or abuse of a nursing home, long-term care facility, or assisted living center, you should talk to an attorney. The experienced Kentucky nursing home negligence attorneys at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley can help you review your loved one’s case and determine whether there is enough evidence to go forward with a claim against the responsible party. Call us at (270) 781-6500 to schedule your free consultation. We are currently reviewing cases throughout the state of Kentucky, including in Bowling Green, Hopkinsville, Brownsville, Scottsville, and Glasgow.

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