Back to Webinars Schedule
Shahrad MilanfarMichael Hill

Shahrad Milanfar · Michael Hill

$32,000,000 negligence, elder abuse, and neglect verdict in (conservative) Sonoma County, CA

TLU Icon May 17, 2024 5:30 PM||TLU n Demand

Register NowZoom Icon

A jury in Santa Rosa, California, Sonoma County, issued a negligence, elder abuse, abandonment, and neglect verdict totaling $32,084,777 against the owners and operators of Arbol Residences of Santa Rosa. This is the largest elder abuse verdict in California in 2023, and the 17th largest verdict overall in California also in 2023. Our 88-year-old client was a dependent and disabled elder with dementia, profound hearing loss, and high fall risk. We alleged that our client was neglected, abused, and abandoned by defendants from June 2019 to September 2020.

What you will get out of this discussion:

  1. How jury selection can set the stage for success in a challenging trial.
  2. How to humanize a client and maximize pain and suffering damages in a case where the client is no longer alive due to natural cause of death.
  3. How to cross-examine technical experts.
  4. How to effectively tell your client’s story and highlight defendants’ bad acts through their witnesses, documents, and experts.
  5. How to use the lack of information in defendant’s files to prove your client’s case.

Case details:

From June 2019 to September 2020, our client suffered between 20 and 25 falls while in defendants’ care. Defendants did not properly address each fall to mitigate the risk of or eliminate future falls. Despite significant risks and probability of a wildfire, defendants were ill-prepared for that danger. They did not have a proper disaster evacuation plan; they had not properly trained their employees for natural disaster evacuations and had not made proper agreements with other facilities to help them transfer residents in case of a natural disaster.

In October 2019, Arbol had to be evacuated due to the Kincade fire. Defendants evacuated our client to a facility 80 miles south of Santa Rosa, CA where she was housed, unsupervised, with 44 other residents. In a 7-hour period she suffered two unwitnessed falls. She fractured her left arm during the second unwitnessed fall. Defendants were unable to identify who was in the room with the residents during the two falls. After being returned from the emergency room, defendants failed to pick-up her pain medication. She was not given pain medication for 15 hours after returning to Defendants’ care. At 10:30 p.m., they decided to put our client in a non-medical transport and send her 80 miles north to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

A doctor at Santa Rosa Memorial ER and a nurse were so concerned about this reckless act that they contacted defendants’ employee to express their concern. They also contacted Adult Protective Services. Our client was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial with a fresh humerus bone fracture, without any medication, without her hearing aids or a safe discharge plan. Defendants did not know who transferred her to the transport vehicle and released her for the ride 80 miles north toward the wildfire that was still raging. Defendants failed to properly track her after the initial transfer. She was transferred approximately 7 times after that and was without her hearing aids for 11 days. When transferring our client 80 miles north, defendants’ employee believed that our client was suffering from a stroke. Despite this concern, she was not sent to the closest trauma center.

These events caused our client to suffer a significant decline during the last years of her life. Defendants denied liability and contended that they should not have to pay punitive damages. The jury awarded $10,084,777 for the personal injuries and trauma our client suffered. They also awarded $22,000,000 in punitive damages against Life Care Services, LLC the company that operated Arbol Residences of Santa Rosa during the pertinent time.

To read more about the case, visit:

If you can't attend Live, Watch On Demand