Agreement reached between family, nursing home over appeal of $400K verdict

David Yates Jan. 22, 2009, 2:59am

Last February, the Southeast Texas Record reported on the trial of Roy Limbrick et al vs. Mariner Health Care Inc. (Green Acres Parkdale). The jurors sided with the children of Alice Limbrick, 94, and faulted the nursing home for the loss of Alice's legs, awarding the family $400,000 in damages.

Three months following the verdict, Green Acres appealed. On Jan. 15 the Texas Ninth District Court of Appeals released a memorandum opinion, stating both sides had settled the litigation and the appeal was to be dismissed.

"The appellants � Green Acres � and the appellee, Roy Limbrick as next friend of Alice Limbrick, filed a joint motion vacate the judgment and to dismiss this appeal," the opinion states.

"The parties allege they have reached a settlement agreement and ask the Court to set aside the judgment of the trial court without regard to the merits and remand the case to the trial court for rendition of judgment in accordance with the parties' agreement."

During the trial, Johnny Limbrick, one of Alice's sons, testified that his mother had been so badly neglected that it had started to "smell like an animal had died" inside his mother's room during her stay at the local nursing home.

The trial was held in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court and ended Feb. 4, 2008.

At the time of the trial, the defense had argued that the decision to amputate Alice Limbrick's legs extended her life and that the measure had to be taken because of Alice's severe medical conditions, extreme old age and the family's joint decisions concerning Alice's care.

According to the plaintiff's petition, filed in the Jefferson County District court on Dec. 19, 2005, Alice Limbrick was admitted to Green Acres for long-term care on June 12, 1995, with multiple health problems. Nearly a decade later, on Nov. 19, 2003, Alice lost her balance and fell while in the TV room, fracturing her left hip.

Testimony and court documents show Limbrick was admitted to Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, where she developed pressure ulcers (bed sores) and eight blisters on both heels and left leg. On Dec, 10, 2003, she was discharged back to Green Acres.

A week later, she was readmitted to Baptist Hospital "with a diagnoses of having gangrene on both heels," the plaintiffs' suit said.

The decubitus ulcers to her heels and left leg continued to deteriorate. And on July 5, 2004, Limbrick's legs were amputated below her knees, the suit said.

"While under the care of Green Acres and Baptist Hospital, Alice Limbrick suffered gross abuse, extensive neglect and undue pain," the suit states.

During the trial, plaintiffs' attorney Clay Dugas said one of Alice's heels had "turned to mush."

Before the start of the trial defendant Baptist Hospital reached a settlement with the family.

Green Acres contended Limbricks's debilitating condition began during her stay with Baptist Hospital, arguing that the blisters she developed at the hospital were a manifestation of deeper tissue damage.

The defense also argued that Alice Limbrick did not heal properly because the family made medical decisions on her behalf that prevented her from obtaining the acute care required for healing.

The family authorized a "Do Not Resuscitate" order and chose to send Alice to a hospice instead of an acute care facility.

The Limbrick family contended that they were "manipulated" into putting their mother's care in the hospice's hands.

According to opening remarks from both sides, Limbrick suffered from diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, dementia and extremely poor blood circulation.

The defense argued a combination of her medical conditions and old age weakened her immune system, making healing difficult. "The ultimate answer for Alice Limbrick was amputation."

However, the family and their attorney remained that despite her old age, her legs could have been saved had Green Acres nurses turned and repositioned her every two hours.

The Limbrick family was awarded $80,000 for past mental anguish, $20,000 for past medical expenses, and $300,000 for past disfigurement and impairment damages.

The appeal's opinion did not state how much the settlement amount.
Green Acres was represented in part by attorney Lauren Harris.

Appeals case No. 09-08-00226-CV
Trial case No. D176-228

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