Polk County, Florida—a jury recently awarded $114 million to the family of a 76-year-old woman who fell victim to nursing home abuse and subsequently died on July 6, 2003. The verdict represents the largest ever awarded in Polk County.
Juanita Jackson’s family filed the lawsuit in 2004, alleging that her death was directly attributable to the abuse that she endured at the nursing home treatment facility. Specifically, the allegations included that Juanita was hurt after falling down, as well as suffering from pressure sores, overmedication, malnourishment, and dehydration.
The former operators of the nursing home, Trans Healthcare and Trans Health management, could not be reached for comment after the announcement of the jury’s verdict. However, this was not an unexpected response, according to Blair Mendes, the Tampa attorney representing the Jackson family. In fact, the two companies apparently stopped participating in the lawsuit weeks before the verdict and a default judgment was levied against them on July 7. Jurors were then asked to determine the amount of money to be awarded in damages: $14 million in damages and $100 million in punitive damages will go to the Jackson family, which includes 3 daughters and a son. While the family declined an interview, they hope that the verdict will prevent other elder abuse at nursing homes from occurring in the future.