Practicing Law With a Passion for the Rights of the Individual
A civil trial for a wrongful death lawsuit brought against a Mt. Pleasant nursing home ended with a negotiated settlement after just two witnesses testified.
The case involved the July 22, 2003 death of 90-year-old Olive Shaffer of Acme. Shaffer died of injuries she sustained when she fell at least twice in the Harmon House nursing home.
Shaffer's estate and her son, Thomas Shaffer, sued Harmon House and its management company, Grane Heathcare Co., based in O'Hara Township, Allegheny County. The Shaffers claimed the nursing home was negligent in its care of the elderly woman.
What was expected to be an eight-day trial lasted less than two days.
Attorneys for the Shaffers and the nursing home said the settlement was sealed and they are barred from releasing details about financial aspects of it.
"My client is happy the case is resolved," said Shaffer family attorney Peter Giglione. "He had his day in court, and to a certain extent what happened to his mom was heard."
In the lawsuit, the Shaffer estate claimed nurses and staff at Harmon House, a 109-bed facility, doctored records, failed to adequately restrain Olive Shaffer to prevent her from falling, and then failed to promptly obtain adequate medical treatment.
The nursing home denied those allegations and said Shaffer, who liked her independence, was prone to falls, like many elderly patients making the adjustment to a nursing home.
The settlement, reached late Wednesday after the second day of testimony, did not require Harmon House or Grane Healthcare to admit liability for Shaffer's death.
"My clients are very sorry this happened. It's always sad when someone dies suddenly, but we deny it was the result of any liability," said attorney John Bass.