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In April 1993, Scott Baker was hired by The Nurse Connection Inc., a home health care company, as a nurse’s aide. In July of that year, he was assigned to help Beatrice Baskin, 74, care for her husband, David, an Alzheimer’s patient. While on duty, Baker “saw cash lying around and decided to come back and rob them,” said plaintiffs’ lawyer Lane M. Ferdinand. After working briefly for another Nurse Connection client, Baker got himself reassigned to the Baskins. This time, however, he showed up in a ski mask and surgical gloves and was accompanied by two accomplices. The trio stole about $60,000 from the Baskins and, after Beatrice Baskin tore the mask off Baker’s face, he stabbed her 75 times. She bled to death and, in 1997, Baker was convicted of murder. Her family sued The Nurse Connection for negligent hiring, charging that it failed to do a proper background check on Baker. After he disclosed a prior conviction for burglary, the firm made no attempt to find out any details about the case, which included a recommendation by the judge that Baker get help learning to deal with his anger. The defendant ignored another red flag: A previous nursing home had fired him and, said Ferdinand, “They never bothered to find out why.” The defense countered that there was no violent behavior in Baker’s past. “His conviction was for throwing a brick through a supermarket window,” said defense attorney Richard Grossman. The plaintiffs focused on proving severe pain and suffering, noting that 27 of the stab wounds were inflicted while Baskin was conscious, as shown by autopsy photographs of defensive wounds on her arms and hands. On Feb. 19, a New Jersey jury found Baker 60 percent and The Nurse Connection 40 percent liable, awarding $46 million, including $40 million to the estate of Baskin for her pain and suffering and $600,000 to the estate of her husband, who died 23 months later. The defense will move for j.n.o.v. and a new trial. Plaintiffs’ attorneys were Lane M. Ferdinand of the Law Offices of Lane M. Ferdinand in Springfield, N.J., and S. Robert Princiotto of Marcus & Levy in Elmwood Park, N.J. The defense attorney was Richard Grossman of Grossman, Kruttschnitt, Heavy & Jacob in Brick, N.J.

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