Jarman v. HCR ManorCare, Inc.

The $500 cap on statutory damages for violations of Health and Safety Code § 1430(b) by a nursing home is not per lawsuit, but rather per cause of action.  This decision disagrees with Nevarrez v. San Marino Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 122, and holds that the $500 cap on statutory damages for violations of H&S Code 1430(b) by a nursing home is not per lawsuit, but rather per cause of action.  It does not say whether each of the 382 violations the jury found in this case was a separate violation since the defendant argued only a per lawsuit limit and didn’t try show there were fewer than 382 causes of action.  The defendant waived any deficiencies in the special verdict’s conflating the two defendants as it didn’t object in the trial court.  The jury’s added $100,000 negligence award was not “speculative.”  Juries are often called upon to quantify damages for personal injuries for which there is no established monetary equivalent.  Finally, the trial court erred in striking the jury’s finding of liability for punitive damages.  Statutory claims, such as plaintiff’s under H&S Code 1430 generally allow for recovery of punitive damages.  Here, there was substantial evidence of conscious disregard of patient’s rights—382 violations in three months for plaintiff and he wasn’t alone.  Also, there was evidence that the Director of Nursing Care was aware of the problem but didn’t cure it, and this satisfied the requirement of managerial involvement in or ratification of the malicious conduct.

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 3 (Moore, J.); March 14, 2017; 2017 WL 977108

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