Zausmer shareholder Cameron R. Getto recently obtained a no-cause verdict in a wrongful death action against an adult foster care facility in Berrien County, Michigan.
The plaintiff was represented by The Spence Law Firm of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. After a five-day jury trial, during which the plaintiff asked for more than $31 million, the jury determined that there was no negligence and issued a defense verdict.
The case involved allegations that a non-profit adult foster care provider failed to provide proper care and did not recognize a rare condition, Ogilvie Syndrome, in a 19-year-old man with severe cerebral palsy. The plaintiff claimed that the workers did not vent the resident’s g-tube properly or often enough. The plaintiff also argued that the condition must have taken 3-4 days to develop and must have been missed by the care workers. The plaintiff further claimed that medications were not appropriately given.
The plaintiff retained a gastroenterologist from New York and celebrity forensic pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, to support the argument that the g-tube must not have been vented correctly and that the workers must have missed the rare condition as it developed. The plaintiff also retained an epidemiology expert from Lake Oswego, Oregon, to address life expectancy.
The defense retained two standard of care experts whose combined experience comprised more than 50 years in adult foster care. Both experts testified that the training was proper, the supervision was proper, and the care met or exceeded all applicable standards and guidelines. Both opined that there was no testimony or evidence supporting the plaintiff’s argument that the condition developed slowly in a 3-4 day period. These experts also testified that, contrary to the plaintiff’s arguments, the records showed that the g-tube was vented as required, that the medications were given, and that the decedent behaved normally until shortly before he became non-responsive.
The defense also relied on the testimony of a number of fact and lay witnesses. Several of the care workers and management-level employees testified and explained the training and care, why it was provided, and why it was proper. Law enforcement investigated the death and determined that there was no evidence of foul play, abuse, or neglect. The medical examiner’s office also concluded that the death was natural rather than the result of wrongdoing. The local Office of Recipient Rights did another investigation, and its officer testified that our client took all reasonable steps in providing care to the decedent.