In July of 2008, Genevieve Calandro was a patient at a nursing home in Danvers, Massachusetts. After an injury in which Ms. Calandro fell from her chair she was brought to the hospital where she was found to have pressure ulcers on her back side, appendicitis, a urinary tract infection, kidney failure, and a slew of other ailments that one might think would be remedied in a nursing home or long term care setting. Instead, due to the inaction on part of the nursing care facility, these ailments were exacerbated due to the neglect of those that were charged with taking care of the elderly patient. While doctors and nurses at the hospital made their best attempt at helping Ms. Calandro, she ultimately succumbed to death due to the host of problems that her estate claims were a direct result of the negligence on part of the health care facility.
The estate of Ms. Calandro brought a wrongful death suit against Radius Health Care Center, claiming that the facility was grossly negligent in the care and treatment of the decedent. The family of Ms. Calandro claimed that they were repeatedly assured that Ms. Calandro was doing well and progressing as she should in light of complaints Ms. Calandro made to her family. In response to various questions and criticisms by the family, the facility claimed that Ms. Calandro was just experiencing a flu that was going around the facility. Little did the family know that any potential flu was the least of her problems.
Among the causes of action put forward by the estate, the Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant facility was grossly negligent. Gross negligence is substantially and appreciably higher in magnitude than ordinary negligence. In order to support a finding of gross negligence, the conduct of a defendant must be characterized by a high degree of culpability and indifference to duty. Gross negligence is commonly defined as very great, or excessive, negligence. It is something more than momentary thoughtlessness (such as a car accident) or a slight error of judgment. It implies an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of care individuals or organizations may owe to another.
Typically, an act rises to the level of gross negligence when the act is done purposely and with knowledge that such act is a breach of a duty owed to another- something that goes beyond the realm of negligence. In the case of Ms. Calandro- it was argued that it was grossly negligent to allow her to remain in the condition she was in with no prompt medical treatment when a special duty existed between Ms. Calandro and the health care providers employed and contracted by the Defendant health care facility.
After a trial on the merits of the case, the estate of Ms. Calandro was awarded $1.4 million dollars in compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are intended to make a victim (or the family of a victim) whole. Whether this takes the form of loss of earning capacity, or loss of companionship, typically the testimony of the next of kin will suffice to showcase what the person’s death will do to their family from a monetary standpoint. In addition to the compensatory damages that were awarded, a Middlesex County awarded $12.5 million dollars in punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the Defendant(s) for egregious behavior that they have been found liable for. The courts use such damages to send messages that certain behavior will not be tolerated in a civilized society. As such, Ms. Calandro’s case is one of the highest verdict awards that a jury has given out in Massachusetts in the past decade.
The case mentioned above is Garry Calandro as the Administrator of the estate of Genevieve Calandro v. Radius Management Services, Inc., et. al. which was decided this month in Middlesex County. Pursing claims for negligence or under the Wrongful Death statute can be complicated and involve a multitude of moving parts. From determining whether you may have a Wrongful Death claim, who the Personal Representative should be, or whether or not a claim for conscious pain and suffering should be pursued, are matters that should be discussed with an attorney. Our office can help you. To schedule a free consultation with lawyer Daniel Cappetta, call our office today at (508) 969-9505 or fill out or contact form available on the right side of this page.