Case: Estate of George Dahmer v. Lake Worth Enterprise

Case no: 502010CA001762XXXXMBAJ

Description: Wrongful death

Filing date: Jan. 22, 2010

Verdict date: Nov. 19, 2012

Judge: Palm Beach Circuit Judge Robin Rosenberg

Plaintiff attorneys: Joseph B. Landy and Michael S. Smith, Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, West Palm Beach

Defense attorney: Daniel Koleos and Len Blumenthal, Koleos Rosenberg, Fort Lauderdale

Verdict amount: $1.77 million

Details: George Dahmer, a 72-year-old Boynton Beach resident, was suffering from end-stage dementia in 2008 and being cared for by his wife. One day, he had a psychotic episode and fled his home. The police recommended he be Baker Acted at Columbia Hospital in West Palm Beach.

Days later, he was transferred to Lake Worth Manor Nursing Home in Lake Worth. He was discharged 63 days later to another nursing home, Heartland Health Care Center in West Palm Beach. Thirteen days after that, Dahmer was transferred to JFK Medical Center in West Palm Beach. Dahmer died at the hospital several weeks later.

In 2010, Dahmer’s wife filed a wrongful death suit against Lake Worth Nursing Home LLC, alleging her husband developed pressure sores, which became infected and led to his death of bronchial pneumonia. Plaintiffs also alleged the nursing home provided him with improper nutrition, allowed him to become dehydrated and falsified records to state his skin was clear when he had ulcerous bedsores.

The nursing home did not offer a settlement, Landy said.

Dahmer, a former professional wrestler known as Chief White Owl on the WWW Wrestling circuit, left behind a wife and two adult children.

Plaintiffs case: The plaintiffs called experts including Dr. Jeffrey Levine, a New York geriatrician; Joann Ojeda, a Tampa nursing expert; and Frank Ferraro, a Stuart accountant, who testified on the family’s assets.

Defense case: The defense did not call any expert witnesses but argued Dahmer was a complex patient who had been treated in his final months at four facilities by a number of doctors, and his death was an unavoidable natural consequence of his condition.

Outcome: Following a one-week trial, the all-male jury panel deliberated for 41 minutes before awarding the plaintiff $800,000 in compensatory damages and $975,000 in punitive damages.

Comments: “It was a full cup of justice,” Landy said. “Despite the fact that we had a tremendously difficult jury panel, I was very confident in my case, and I’m happy with the verdict.”

Post-settlement: The company issued a statement after the verdict indicating it might appeal, but no post-settlement motions have been filed.