Verdicts Denson v. Kindred Healthcare Operating, Inc.

Deborah Ballard, Rhonda Turner, Robert J. Denson, Virginia A. Nodine,
Theron L. Denson, and Ira L. Denson, individually and as representatives of the Estate of Theron A. Denson, decedent and Rhonda Turner as Administratrix of the Estate of Theron A. Denson v. Kindred Healthcare Operating, Inc. d/b/a Athena Rehab of Clayton State Court of Clayton County

Liability Facts: An 80-year-old male resident at Athena Nursing Home facility in Morrow, Clayton County Georgia, died as a result of cardiac arrest secondary to a choking incident that occurred at the Athena Nursing Home.

Mr. Denson’s medical history included prior heart problems, difficulty with swallowing and some dementia. He also had a long history of frequent visits to the emergency room complaining of chronic pain. A complicating factor in this case was a record of Social Services involvement because of alleged poor living conditions, resulting in Mr. Denson being placed in the nursing care facility in the first place.

The medical chart at the Nursing Home revealed that Mr. Denson had a history of “packing” food. No swallow study or diagnostic tests were ordered to further evaluate Mr. Denson. Mr. Denson was placed on a mechanical soft diet. Despite this order, he was served with whole kernel corn, which he was unable to tolerate and as a result he aspirated and was taken to the emergency room. Upon arrival at the emergency room, he was hypoxic, his vital signs were dangerously low, he was unresponsive to even painful stimuli and he subsequently died.

The nursing home contested liability and claimed that whole kernel corn was an approved food for the particular diet plan that he was on, and that the cause of death was a heart attack independent of the choking incident. Other evidence included allegations of failure to follow controlling Federal Regulations, inadequate reporting, monitoring, malnutrition and dehydration. Defendant denied all allegations.

Injury Facts: Wrongful death secondary to choking.
Medical Expenses: $5,000.00
Future Medical: Not applicable
Medical Expert: Plaintiff’s did not reveal an expert for purposes of satisfying the affidavit requirement, but consulted with a geriatric expert and a dietary expert for geriatric care for mediation.

Offer/Demand: $150,000.00/$400,000.00 The matter settled at mediation prior to filing the lawsuit.

Verdict/Settlement: Confidential

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Andrew C. Ausband, Ausband & Farr, P.C., Atlanta/Stockbridge

Defendant’s Attorney: Walter H. Bush, Jr., Arnall Golden & Gregory, LLP, Atlanta, Georgia