Jury Awards 14 Million in the Death of a 90 Year Old Woman

This is the Largest Home-Related Verdict in the Last Decade in Massachusetts.
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Four thousand U.S. dollars are counted out by a banker
Four thousand U.S. dollars are counted out by a banker counting currency at a bank in Westminster, Colorado November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The family of a 90-year-old woman Genevieve Calandro has been awarded $14 million by a Middlesex County Jury. In August 2008, she was rushed to the hospital after falling from a wheelchair at a Danvers nursing home. She suffered from acute appendicitis, a festering blood pressure sore on her back, a terrible urinary tract infection that invaded her blood stream, kidney failure, uncontrolled diabetes and severe dehydration.

Despite treatments, they could not save her; she passed away in August the same year. The Middlesex jury, however, awarded Calandro's family $14 million because of the substandard care that she had to undergo in the Radius Health Care Centre. They were negligent and lacked a sense of responsibility due to which Calandro lost her life. According to the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, which tracks jury awards, this is the largest home-related verdict in the last decade in Massachusetts.

Gary Calandro, the youngest son of Genevieve, said, "That is the only way to send a message, or to punish people, and somebody in that business certainly needs to look at it with a more serious manner than just as a big money-making business." He added that the family's loss and his mother's suffering could not be compensated by any amount of money.

Gary said that his mother was unwell in June 2008 and despite a lot of probing by the family into her health issues, they were assured by the nursing home that there was no problem. They told the family that there was a virus going through the nursing home and that was the reason for her fever, apart from which they assured them that everything was under control.

The jury said on Tuesday that the "gross negligence" was a "substantial contributing factor" in the death of the woman and about $12.5 million was given for punitive damages. Since then, Radius has gone out of business, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Peter B. Krupp told the jury before it began deliberations on punitive damages.

 "The judge explained that the whole purpose of the punitive award is to send a message that you can't get away with this anymore," said Kris Sobczak, one of Calandro's attorneys. Most people in the nursing home are there in the business because they genuinely care for the patients, he said. "But when you have short staffing, and no training, things fall through the cracks."

Lawrence Kenney, a Boston attorney representing Radius, said the company acknowledged a "breach" in the standard of care Calandro received, but disagreed on the fact that it was stated as a reason for her death. Kenney will appeal the award.

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