The First Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated a plaintiff’s pre-mortem pain and suffering claim that was initially dismissed by the district court. The claim is part of a 2014 case involving a woman who had been transferred to a New York City nursing home after hospitalization for severe respiratory distress and pneumonia, where she eventually died of cardiac arrest due to severe septic shock. The claim is dependent on evidence of the decedent’s mental state prior to her death.
In Estreich v. Jewish Home Lifecare, the family of a deceased 69-year-old woman sued the nursing home she was staying at. The woman had a long history of medical problems, including urinary tract infections, multiple strokes, congestive heart failure, vascular dementia and pneumonia, and by April 2010 required constant assistance for all major life activities. Significantly, when she was admitted to the hospital in October 2013, she was noted to be in a “persistent vegetative state,” and was unresponsive to most outside stimuli.
The reason her mental state is significant is because the pain and suffering claim brought by the plaintiff on behalf of the decedent is based on the idea that she suffered physical and mental distress while she was in the care of the nursing home. While there, she developed pressure ulcers (more commonly known as bed sores) that the nursing home allegedly failed to address, ultimately leading to the septic shock that killed her. If she was in a persistent vegetative state as noted by the hospital, then she was likely not aware enough to experience pain and suffering, which was what led to the dismissal of that claim at the district court level. The First Circuit disagreed, however, noting that there was some evidence she may have been aware enough to experience pain, meaning that dismissing the claim on summary judgment was premature. The claim now goes back to the district court to rule on the facts of the pain and suffering claim.
If you or a loved one is suffering from bed sores while under the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, it’s important to get the legal representation you need to remedy the situation and get compensation for the harm you and your loved ones have suffered. The lawyers at Levine and Slavit, PLLC are experienced in representing New York City and Long Island residents in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. To schedule a free consultation, contact our New York City nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at (212) 687-2777 or for our Long Island nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers call (516) 294-8282.