$8,000,000 Verdict for Wrongful Death of 23 year old Adult Disabled Man Who Choked On His Own At Adult Daycare Center
A 23 year old adult male with preexisting cerebral palsy who was nonverbal and incapable of moving his arms and legs was attending a day session at the Quest Adult Day Training Center in Tampa, Florida. Due to his condition he was harnessed to his wheelchair. During an enrichment session he became ill while in a group room with 19 other similarly disabled adults and 6 direct service providers or staff. All of the staff were supposed to be trained in BLS/CPR. During this session the victim vomited and began to swallow his own vomit. However, no one was supervising him and so his predicament was not discovered until one of the staff noticed his head was down with his arms by his sides. At that time the lead staff ran out of the room in search of the center LPN rather than provide basic BLS/CPR to the victim. None of the other 5 staff provided BLS/CPR. The victim did not receive any assistance until the lead staff returned with the nurse to the group room. By that time the victim was blue, pulseless and not breathing. The nurse suctioned substantial vomit from the victim’s throat and provided CPR. Subsequently, the paramedics arrived and did the same thing. The victim was then transported to the emergency department where substantial resuscitative efforts were attempted but to no avail. The victim was pronounced dead. An autopsy was which showed the victim died due to asphyxiation or choking on his own vomit. The victim was survived by his mother. She was appointed as personal representative of his estate and filed suit against Quest alleging its staff was negligent in monitoring, supervising, and responding to victim’s vomiting and choking episode. Quest defended the case by arguing the incident was a sudden medical emergency which its staff properly responded to under the circumstances. Quest also sought to reduce its proportionate liability by suing the group home where the victim resided alleging it negligently prepared the victim’s meals which led to his sickness and also sued the county paramedics for allegedly using the wrong intubation tube. The case was tried. The trial court entered a directed verdict dismissing Quest’s claims against the group room and the paramedics for lack of evidence. Counsel for Quest urged the jury to find Quest not at fault but if the jury felt differently to award the surviving mother $125,000 for the cost of past and future therapy sessions. The jury found Quest negligent and awarded the mother $8 million dollars.