The nursing home industry (and nursing home lawyers) was stunned earlier this year when a Humboldt County jury returned a class action verdict against the nursing home chain of $677 million dollars. The plaintiffs alleged, and the jury believed, that Skilled Healthcare, the owner of many nursing homes in several states, routinely understaffed its California nursing facilities, compromising patient care in an effort to maximize profits.
The case was a battle. ”Everything was fought tooth and nail,” Timothy Needham, lead trial lawyer for the team of plaintiff lawyers told the Times-Standard. The trial lasted six months. But the verdict was so big it created practical problems for the victors, and potentially fatal concerns for Skilled Healthcare, a publically traded company. Because of the size of the verdict, Skilled Healthcare could not afford to pay such a huge judgment and could not appeal the result (appeals require the posting of a bond, which is a percentage of the verdict), and the plaintiffs really didn’t want to take over the company. So, smartly, everyone agreed on a settlement.
It was announced yesterday that the verdict of $677 million was settled for $62.8 million.