1993'S LARGEST VERDICTS

The National Law Journal

Some Big Judgments Were Settled After Trial

(excerpt)

As happens every year, some of the largest 1993 verdicts were settled by year's end. There were also some settlements of judgments from previous years. 1993 verdict settlements include:

Case type: Wrongful death.

Case: v. Vari-Care Inc., CV91-617 (Cir. Ct., Baldwin Co., Ala.).

Verdict amount and date: $ 65 million; Nov. 19.

Settlement amount and date: Undisclosed; December.

JAMES MILTON West was 83 years old when he came to the Montrose Bay Health Care Center in Montrose, Ala., in May 1990 after suffering a stroke. Mr. West was at the nursing care facility for several weeks. By the time he was transferred to a hospital, says plaintiffs' attorney Robert T. Cunningham Jr., of Mobile, Ala.'s Cunningham, Bounds, Yance, Crowder & Brown, "he was badly malnourished, he had a systemic infection," including a "huge, gangrenous bed sore that measured 8 to 10 inches in diameter. He died shortly thereafter."

His family sued the nursing care center and its owner, Vari-Care Inc., over his death, charging, says Mr. Cunningham, that while at the nursing home "he had been grossly neglected. The nursing home violated professional, state and federal standards of care," Mr. Cunningham adds. On Nov. 19, 1993, a Mobile, Ala., jury agreed, awarding Mr. Cunningham's estate $ 65 million, all punitives. (In Alabama, only punitives can be awarded in wrongful-death actions.) On Dec. 13, a settlement agreement was reached, the terms of which were confidential.

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