Bob Anspach successfully obtained defense verdict indicating no liability for nursing home in wrongful death lawsuit

The Exponent Telegram

Harrison jury: No liability for nursing home in wrongful death lawsuit  Matter pitted Mississippi, WV law firms against each other

Aug 26, 2016

CLARKSBURG — A three-week wrongful death trial in Harrison County ended Friday with the jury finding that Heartland nursing home, its parent company and the nursing home’s administrator weren’t liable.

The jury deliberated for about half a day before finishing its work around 2:30 p.m.

Greg Haddad was the lawyer for nursing home parent company HCR ManorCare Inc.  He kept a poker face after viewing the verdict form with other counsel and the court, and when returning to counsel table to listen to Harrison County Deputy Clerk Tricia Dobbins read the decision.

But that all changed afterward, as the attorneys for Bailey & Glasser LLP of Charleston and Anspach Law of Charleston and Huntington embraced with clients.

Mississippi law firm McHugh Fuller Law Group was on the other side, alleging care at the home had led to an 87-year-old woman’s death a few weeks after she left.

After the verdict, Ben Bailey, partner at Bailey & Glasser, said he was “grateful for the jury’s hard work and thoughtful consideration of everything we did.”  The verdict also was “a recognition of the good work that all the folks of Heartland of Clarksburg and the Manor Care network do for their patients,” Bailey said.

Attorney Bob Anspach’s firm represented Heartland of Clarksburg, the administrator and Heartland Employment Services.  “So far as I’m concerned, this has always been a case about care provided (to the resident), and the evidence proved that she and many others like her got great care at our facility,” Anspach said.

Joining Haddad at counsel table were two other members of Bailey and Glasser: Attorneys Becky Pomeroy and Kerrie Boyle. Anspach was assisted by attorneys David Rich and Jarrod Jordan.

Lawyers Lance Reins and Amy Quezon of McHugh Fuller had tried to prove that actions at Heartland had led to the octogenarian’s death. But as Dobbins polled the jurors following the verdict, the five men and two women each reinforced their verdict that no liability attached to the defendants.

Harrison Chief Judge Thomas A. Bedell presided. In addition to praising the jurors for the time they put into the case, he also told them that, at least as far as he’s concerned, they’ve fulfilled their civic duty as jurors for the next eight years. He said that should they be selected at random for jury duty again during that time, he would work to have them excused from service should they so request.

In addition to being one of the longest-lasting trials in the circuit, the case also saw a wholesale rearranging of the court: To accommodate a phalanx of supporting personnel and technology, half of the courtroom’s benches were temporarily removed. The last time that happened was during the intensive Spelter smelter class action lawsuit trial involving DuPont. Bedell, a 24-year veteran of the bench, also presided in that case.

Special court reporters also were imported for the nursing home trial, with Bedell’s longtime court reporter, Leslie Pruitt, heading to another county during the trial to handle their work.

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