Plaintiff Dana Jones filed suit on behalf of her husband, Raymond Jones, against a Lynchburg-area hospital system alleging various theories of medical malpractice. In January 2013, Mr. Jones suffered a stroke to the right side of his brain. Three months later in April, Mr. Jones suffered a debilitating stroke to the left portion of his brain, making him unable to express or comprehend speech. Mr. Jones was admitted to an acute rehabilitation hospital. After two weeks, he was discharged to a skilled nursing facility for long-term rehabilitation. He remained in his room with his wife for approximately four hours until his wife left the facility. About 15 minutes later, Mr. Jones opened a window to his room that was designed to open a maximum of 10 inches, a space too small for a person to escape. By force, Mr. Jones then removed the window from its mooring and climbed out. After a nursing assistant tried to save him from falling, Mr. Jones fell three stories suffering skull fractures, rib fractures and a scapula fracture.
Plaintiff filed suit alleging medical malpractice for the skilled nursing facility’s alleged failures to: (1) properly assess Mr. Jones’ cognitive deficits and implement appropriate interventions, (2) supervise Mr. Jones with one-on-one care, (3) reconcile and administer appropriate medications, (4) failure to transfer information to staff, (5) failure to train its staff to deal with demented patients, and (5) timely and appropriately intervene when Mr. Jones began removing the window.
Defendants argued that it properly assessed Mr. Jones and provided him with appropriate interventions under the circumstances. Specifically, he was put in a secure facility with elevator and door alarms to prevent elopement, as well as a Wanderguard alarm bracelet to alert staff if he approached an exit. Defendants also argued that the windows to the facility were appropriately designed to prevent escape through an open window; therefore, it was unforeseeable that Mr. Jones, or any patient, would remove the window and frame from its moorings to elope.
After five days of trial and five hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict for the defendant.[18-T-038]
Type of action: Medical Malpractice
Injuries alleged: Traumatic brain injury, skull fractures, rib fracture and scapula fracture
Name of case: Jones v. Skilled Nursing Facility
Court: Lynchburg Circuit Court
Tried before: Jury
Name of judge: Hon. F. Patrick Yeatts
Date resolved: March 30, 2018
Special damages: $130,591.09 (medical bills)
Demand: $2,000,000 plus punitive damages
Verdict or settlement: Defense Verdict
Attorneys for defendant: L. Thompson Hanes and Ian Lambeets, Richmond
Plaintiff’s experts: Charlotte Shepherd, RN; Dennis O’Neill, MD
Defendant’s experts: Tiffany Robins, RN; James Wright, MD; Sidney Mallenbaum, MD