Recently, the Wisconsin personal injury law firm of Boller & Vaughan, LLC successfully closed one of the most heart-wrenching assisted living cases they have encountered.
Joshua Wahl, a charming 34 year-old man born with a number of physical and developmental disabilities, was a resident at Aurora Residential Alternatives (ARA), a Menomonie, Wisconsin community-based residential facility for individuals with disabilities, chronic mental illness and traumatic brain injuries. Joshua was born with spina bifida, moderate intellectual disability, was paralyzed from the chest down, and wheelchair bound. He was totally dependent on Aurora staff for all activities of his daily living.
As a result of neglect and inadequate treatment by unlicensed staff members, Joshua developed a pressure sore that was so severe, it extended all the way down to the bone. Although the pressure sore was discovered early on by the staff at ARA, neither Joshua’s mother nor his primary physician was alerted to his condition, resulting in inadequate medical treatment, a serious bone infection, extended and unnecessary suffering, and confinement to a nursing home for an entire year.
The jury awarded monetary damages for:
- Past medical costs
- $850,000 for compensation for past discomfort and suffering
- $1,400 for damages under the Mental Health Care Act
- $500,000 in punitive damages against ARA
- $2 million in punitive damages against Aurora Integrated Management, the management group overseeing Aurora Residential Alternatives and its umbrella organization, Aurora Community Services (5).
Sadly, neglect cases like this are far more common than you think. Just a few examples of nursing home/residential care abuse and neglect are:
- Bed sores/pressure sores
- Broken bones
- Overdoses of medicine
- Worsening of medical conditions
- Depression due to physical or emotional abuse or neglect
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
And, while the $3.5 million verdict is the largest assisted living verdict in Wisconsin history, the attorneys at Boller & Vaughan see the victory as bittersweet. Prevention is the key to keeping our elders and most vulnerable citizens safe. If you find yourself in search of a nursing or residential care facility, there are some really helpful checklists available (1), to help you find the right facility for you or your loved one.
Important: Although there are Federal guidelines (2) for nursing homes and state guidelines (3) for residential facilities, most states have their own rules and regulations regarding educational and training requirements for general staffing. You can find a complete list of statewide standards by visiting the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website. (4)
Abuse and neglect cases such as the Wahl family experienced address the most fragile members of our community. Often these are men and women with no voice of their own. If you know someone who has experienced abuse or neglect in a nursing home or residential treatment facility, please contact the Madison personal injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan, LLC at (608) 807-0078 for a free consultation. If we take your case, we’ll fight to get you and your loved ones the help and the money you need and deserve.