State Appellate Court Affirms Judgment Notwithstanding Verdict that Vacated Judgment Against Health Care Center for Wrongful Death of Resident

Harry Cohoon was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer and was recovering at Victoria Healthcare Center while he underwent treatment from various injuries he had suffered.

For 19 days, he did well at the healthcare center. On the 20th day of his residency there, he was observed having difficulty swallowing thin liquids. After evaluation, his diet was changed.

His niece, Donna Cochrum sued the healthcare center contending that the change was not properly communicated to the residency kitchen staff. Consequently, that night he was served a dinner that did not conform to his new diet.

Less than 20 minutes after being served dinner, a nurse found Cohoon in respiratory arrest.  The paramedics removed large pieces of chicken from Cohoon’s throat before intubating him. More pieces of chicken were removed from his airway at the hospital. He died the following day due to complications from oxygen deprivation to his brain.

The lawsuit by Cochrum was filed against Victoria Healthcare Center maintaining that the causes of action included elder abuse and negligence. As the personal representative of Cohoon’s estate, Cochrum asserted a wrongful death cause of action.

After a jury trial, the verdict was returned in favor of Cochrum on all causes of action.  However, after the trial, the trial court granted a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), finding insufficient evidence of recklessness to support the elder abuse cause of action. The trial court also adjusted the remaining damages pursuant to state law.

Cochrum appealed the amended judgment contending that the evidence supported the elder abuse cause of action. Two of the defendants cross-appealed, contending the court improperly applied the state law on caps.

On appeal, the appellate court found no reversible error and thus affirmed the amended judgment.

Cochrum v. Costa Victoria Healthcare, LLC, No. G052934 (4th Appellate District, California Court of Appeals, Aug.8, 2018).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical malpractice lawsuits, wrongful death cases, nursing home abuse cases, nursing negligence lawsuits and brain injury cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Schaumburg, Robbins, Riverdale, Prospect Heights, Streamwood, South Chicago Heights, South Barrington, Arlington Heights, Alsip, Justice, Kenilworth, Melrose Park, Maywood, East Hazel Crest, Dixmoor, Crete, Crestwood, Chicago (Edgewater, Fuller Park, Fulton River District, Garfield Park, Gold Coast, Humboldt Park, Beverly, Back of the Yards, Wrigleyville, Hyde Park, Albany Park, Bronzeville), LaGrange Park, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park and Itasca, Ill.

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