Morrison Mahoney Partner Joe Desmond and Associate Joe Fogarty recently obtained a defense verdict following a two day trial in Connecticut Superior Court, New Haven Judicial District in a nursing home negligence action.

Plaintiff alleged that he was attacked by another resident on two consecutive days, and alleged negligent failure to supervise against the nursing home. In the first attack, plaintiff and another resident got into a verbal altercation on an outdoor patio designated for residents who smoked cigarettes. The nursing home staff member supervising the residents then separated the two residents to different areas of the patio. Plaintiff alleged that the other resident then rolled his wheelchair down a hill toward him, ramming the wheelchair into plaintiff’s left knee.  Plaintiff claimed that he was permanently disabled and unable to regain the ability to walk as a result.

After the incident on the outdoor patio, the facility advised the two residents to avoid going to the patio at the same time and to avoid interacting with each other.  The next day, however, the two residents had a chance encounter in a hallway and again got into a verbal exchange.  The other resident allegedly attacked the plaintiff with a wet floor sign, striking him on the arm and face.

Plaintiff’s standard of care expert, a registered nurse from Pennsylvania, claimed that the facility should have separated the two residents into separate rooms after the initial verbal altercation on the patio and/or discharged the other resident after the wheelchair collision incident. During the trial, we aggressively cross-examined the plaintiff’s expert, who was previously deposed in the case. During the cross-examination, we established that the alleged expert had never worked in a skilled nursing facility and was unfamiliar with the requirements for discharging a resident from a nursing facility in Connecticut.

We also called our own standard of care expert, who explained that the nursing facility had to keep the residents in the least restrictive environment and that separating the residents and instructing them to avoid interacting with each other was appropriate, as they were both cognitively intact and alert and oriented. Our expert explained that confining the other resident to his room and/or discharging him would have been a violation of his rights as a resident.

The jury returned a defense verdict after their deliberations.