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ELDERLY MAN SUFFERS NUMEROUS FALLS

Type of Action: Nursing home negligence

Description: According to plaintiff’s counsel: Herman Hoke, an 83-year old who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia, Congestive Heart Failure, and multiple other conditions, was admitted to Westwood Health and Rehabilitation Center in Archdale, North Carolina. During the 16 days that he was a resident of Westwood, Hoke fell six times. The last fall resulted in a fractured hip and multiple fractured ribs. Following surgery to repair the fractured hip, Hoke returned to Westwood. He remained at Westwood for five days and was then transferred to another nursing home. Approximately three weeks later, Hoke died. The death certificate listed the cause of his death as congestive heart failure and pneumonia. At trial, the plaintiff presented evidence that Westwood and its staff failed to implement appropriate fall prevention devices and that that failure was the cause of Hoke’s final fall. Plaintiff presented evidence that Westwood failed to follow its own policies and procedures for fall prevention and that the Westwood staff failed to recommend the use of the least restrictive restraints that would have prevented Hoke from falling. The defense argued that Hoke did not fracture his hip when he fell, but that he fractured his hip when he stood up out of his wheelchair. The defense also argued that they could not use restraints without a physician’s order and that the physician would not have ordered restraints. The defense presented Hoke’s attending physician at trial and he testified that he did not believe restraints were appropriate and would not have ordered them. The defense also argued that Hoke’s death was not caused by the fractured hip. The defense presented expert physician testimony that Hoke died as a result of his underlying medical conditions and further as a result of the failure of the second nursing home to properly care for Hoke. The jury awarded $150,000 for Hoke’s pain and suffering and $450,000 as wrongful death damages to the legal beneficiaries. Of note, one of Hoke’s sons did not testify at the time of trial.

Injuries Alleged: Fractured hip and multiple fractured ribs and subsequent death

Name of Case: Jane Hoke, Executor of the Estate of Herman Hoke v. NC Health Care-Archdale, Inc.

Court: Randolph County Superior Court

Case No.: No. 01 CVS 2510 Tried Before: Jury

Name of Judge: J.D. DeRamus, Jr.

Special Damages: Funeral expenses: $7,700

Verdict/Settlement: verdict

Amount: $600,000

Verdict Date: May 5, 2003

Demand: n/a

Offer: n/a

Experts: Judith Britt, R.N., Garner; Nannette Hoffman, M.D., Gainesville, Florida

Insurer: None Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Stephen J. Gugenheim, Julie Wallis Gugenheim, Raleigh

© 2003 Lawyers Weekly Inc., All Rights Reserved.

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