Manor Care Inc. v. Douglas (Signed Opinion)Annotate this Case
Dorothy Douglas died from severe dehydration not long after leaving Heartland Nursing Home, where she stayed for nineteen days. Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of Douglas’s estate, brought claims of negligence, violations of the West Virginia Nursing Home Act (NHA), and breach of fiduciary duty against Defendants, several corporate entities related to Heartland. After a jury trial, Plaintiff was awarded $11.5 million in compensatory damages and $80 million in punitive damages. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the circuit court erred in concluding that the NHA was not governed by the Medical Professional Liability Act (MPLA), and due to a lack of evidence that the pre-suit requirements of the MPLA were met, the claim is dismissed and the accompanying $1.5 million award is vacated; (2) the circuit court erred in recognizing a breach of fiduciary duty claim against a nursing home, and therefore, the claim is dismissed and the accompanying $5 million award is vacated; and (3) the punitive damages award is reduced proportionate to the reduction in compensatory damages. Remanded.