The owner of a Georgia nursing home has been hit with a $43.5 million verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a man who allegedly died as a result of nursing home neglect.
The verdict was handed down earlier this month in Floyd County Superior Court in Rome, Georgia. The nursing home lawsuit was brought against George D. Houser, former owner of the Moran Lake Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center.
The complaint was brought by Loretta Terhune, whose father, Morris Ellison, was a former resident of Moran Lake. He died in 2007 after suffering a number of nursing home falls and fractures. The lawsuit alleged that the nursing home did not notify either Ellison’s family or his doctor about his injuries, and also claimed that Ellison, 80, suffered from malnourishment and dehydration in the nursing home.
Although elderly and ill nursing home residents are often more prone to falling, nursing homes have an obligation to take steps to minimize the risk of falls, or they could be held liable through a nursing home negligence lawsuit. Accepted standards of care and federal nursing home regulations require every facility to perform a fall assessment on each new resident and develop a plan to lower the risk of a fall in a nursing home. This plan should be updated whenever the resident’s medical condition changes.
During the trial, former employees testified that the nursing home did not have the money to pay its bills or do laundry. According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Houser faces a federal indictment for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of $30 million, and he allegedly used money meant for the facility to buy himself luxury cars and real estate. Houser, an attorney, attempted to represent himself during the trial. After the verdict, he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs for contempt of court charges.
Moran Lake was closed in 2007 after inspections found a host of problems. It has since re-opened under new management.