February 2012 Archives

February 29, 2012

Family of Kentucky Nursing Home Neglect Victim Awarded $8 Million

A retired doctor was living in Treyton Oak Towers nursing home in Louisville, Kentucky. The resident allegedly suffered from osteoporosis and had a care plan in place regarding how he was to be moved. A care plan is often created by a hospital or physician when a nursing home or assisted living resident requires care that differs from the normal care given by the facility. In this case, the attorney for the resident alleged that his care plan called for two assistants to be used when moving him.

In September 2008, the victim's family claims he was moved by only one person without the use of a lift and that both of his legs were broken during the move. Because he had previously suffered a stroke, he was unable to tell anyone about the pain he was suffering. The lawsuit filed on his behalf stated that the nursing home attempted to cover up the situation and that his broken legs were not discovered until September 24, 2008. He was transferred to a hospital for the broken bones, and was later relocated to a different nursing home. He succumbed to his injuries on November 3, 2008.

While the attorneys for the nursing home tried to convince the jury how much the victim meant to them, and that he was never abused or neglected, the jury still found in favor of the victim, awarding his estate $8 million in damages. Of this total, $1 million was awarded because the nursing home violated Kentucky's nursing home statute. Numerous patient rights are covered by KRS 216.515, the statute that covers the rights of residents and the duties of the facility. The lawsuit in this case may have included the violation of one or more of the following sections:

Section 6 - "All residents shall be free from mental and physical abuse..."

Section 19 - "Every resident and the responsible party...has the right to be fully informed of the resident's medical condition..."

Section 22 - "The resident's responsible party or family member...shall be notified immediately of any accident, sudden illness, disease, unexplained absence, or anything unusual involving the resident."

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February 21, 2012

Kentucky Woman Dies after being given Wrong Prescription at Pharmacy

In November 2010, a woman went to the Walgreens on Stony Brook Drive in Jeffersontown, Kentucky to get her prescription filled. She had been suffering with high blood pressure among other things and needed hydralazine to treat it. Unfortunately, the pharmacist that took the prescription from her gave her hydroxine, an antihistamine, instead. Because of the error, the woman did not receive the proper treatment for her high blood pressure for two weeks. By the time the error was found, she had to be hospitalized and she died soon after.

The victim's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit on February 15, 2012 in Jefferson Circuit Court. The suit claims that the pharmacist on duty did not counsel the victim on the medication. If he had, he would have noticed the mistake and the proper medication could have been dispensed immediately. Both the pharmacist and Walgreen Corporation are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Compensatory and punitive damages are being requested in the claim.

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed for numerous reasons. In this case, the victim was treated improperly because she was given the wrong medication, which is considered a type of medical malpractice. Fatal car accidents caused by drunk drivers, drivers under the influence of drugs, or other distracted drivers can result in a wrongful death lawsuit. A lawsuit of this kind can be filed if someone is killed by faulty products or equipment. A good example of this situation is the stage collapse at the Indianapolis, Indiana fairgrounds that killed several people. Deaths from nursing home negligence or abuse can also be cause for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful death lawsuits are filed by the estate of the victim, most often a family member. The statute of limitations in Kentucky, which is how long the estate has to file suit, is a bit confusing. After a victim has died, the family has up to two years to appoint a representative and to file a lawsuit. Once a representative has been named, a suit must be filed within one year. So if a representative is appointed two days after the victim's death, the estate has one year and two days after the death to file a claim because a representative has been appointed. If the estate waits 18 months to find a representative, there are only six months left in which to file a claim before the two-years-after-death deadline.

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February 16, 2012

Two Kentucky Car Accident Fatalities caused by Drunk Drivers

1083566_the_last_drop_.jpgOn Sunday, February 5, 2012, Robert Kempf was driving on I-71 near the Watterson Expressway in Louisville, Kentucky when a fatal accident occurred. Based on a preliminary investigation, this tragic car accident could have been avoided.

Robert Kempf and his friend had been watching the Super Bowl that Sunday, visiting with friends, drinking some alcohol. Later that night, Mr. Kempf got in his 1995 white Corvette with his friend. Once on I-71, he started speeding and lost control of the vehicle. Investigators are unsure if he ran off the road and rolled the car or if the car rolled over until it left the road. Either way, his 49-year-old passenger was killed when the car rolled onto its roof. How Mr. Kempf was able to walk away with minor injuries is a mystery.

What is not a mystery are the factors involved in this crash. First, Mr. Kempf was driving over the posted speed limit, which makes it more difficult to control a vehicle. Second, Mr. Kempf had been drinking prior to driving the vehicle. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol seriously hinders a driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle. Mr. Kempf certainly should have been aware of this, especially since he has been arrested for DUI three other times in Louisville. He has been charged again with DUI in this case too. However, this time is a little different because he has also been charged with murder.

A similar case is unfolding now, also in Louisville. John Koerner of Clarksville, Indiana was driving on Grinstead Drive with two passengers in his car on February 10th when he lost control of the vehicle and hit a tree. One of his passengers was ejected from the vehicle during the accident. According to witnesses, Mr. Koerner and Kristy Harper, the other passenger, fled the scene. They were both found shortly after they ran. The injured passenger was taken to the hospital and the driver was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence, assault and wanton endangerment. Ms. Harper was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and public intoxication.

Unfortunately, the injured passenger succumbed to a brain injury on February 15th, raising the possibility that Mr. Koerner could now be charged with murder.

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February 7, 2012

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Ends in $1.5 Million in Indiana, Another Begins in Kentucky

A medical malpractice suit has ended in the victim's favor in New Albany, Indiana, and a new case has been filed in Taylor County, Kentucky. The first case altered a young woman's life forever, and the second case took the life of a woman completely.

A 21-year-old woman went to Floyd Memorial Hospital because of abdominal pain on June 5, 2003. She was told by Dr. William Garner that she required surgery the next day. Dr. Garner changed his mind about the surgery the next day, then left for the weekend. By June 8th, the patient's condition had dramatically worsened and she had emergency surgery to remove her bowel. She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit contending that if the doctor had continued to have her monitored in his absence, her need to have surgery would have been discovered sooner and more of her bowel could have been saved.

As a result of the delayed surgery, the suit alleges that the victim's life has been negatively affected. She finds it impossible to work. Her body processes food in 30 minutes, rather than the normal six to eight hours, so she is unable to obtain proper nutrition from the things she eats. She also suffers from bloating.

In January, 2012, the jury agreed with the victim and awarded her $1.5 million in damages.
The amount was reduced by the courts to $1.25 million due to a state limit on medical malpractice awards. Some may think a jury of the victim's peers may have not been fair because they are not in the medical profession. But Indiana requires all medical malpractice claims to be reviewed by a panel of three impartial doctors before they can go to trial, and all three agreed with the victim and allowed the case to go to trial.

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