California Nursing Home Abuse Victim Awarded $12.5M After Being Sexually Assaulted

A 94 year old California woman with dementia was awarded $12.5 million after being sexually assaulted by a nursing home aide. Details of the assault, the way nursing home management handled the matter and how the company cut corners to save money are equally astounding – and the verdict is a victory for those injured while in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or adult day care.

This California nursing home injury lawsuit involves 94 year old Sophie Schwartz, a dementia patient who resided at an Oakdale Heights convalescent home. In December of 2007, Jose Vazquez, an illegal immigrant who was hired as a dietary aide, got drunk at work and sexually assaulted Schwartz. Although Vazquez was arrested and is serving eight years in prison for attempted rape, Schwartz and her family hired a California nursing home abuse lawyerand filed a personal injury lawsuit against the facility and others. What their attorney was able to show the jury at trial was simply astounding.

Fraud, deception & purgery

At the nursing home abuse trial, testimony revealed fraud, deception and purgery, such as:

  • Participating in a Ponzi scheme. The elder-care facility was part of a $200 million Ponzi scheme for which the owner was arrested in May 2009. The scheme involved purchasing assisted living facilities, selling them to one their affiliate companies and then bleeding the facilities dry by cutting costs, failing to adequately staff the centers and providing lax security and supervision.
  • Employing illegal aliens. Management allegedly knew that Vazquez was an illegal immigrant, that he had forged employment documents and provided multiple forms of identification – many with different names and identities – yet the company hired him anyway and gave him keys to every residents' room.
  • Committing purgery. The facility's executive administrator committed purgery by saying that there hadn't been security on duty that night in a deposition, then changed her story at trial – finally revealing that she had lied on the stand and that there had not been any security on the night of the assault.

All of this damaging evidence presented by Schwartz’s lawyer led to a $12.5 million nursing home abuse jury verdict – one of the largest ever awarded for emotional trauma without evidence of physical injury.

Family and friends often last to know about elder care abuse

There are various forms of elder abuse including physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or abandonment by caregivers, financial exploitation and healthcare fraud and abuse. Unfortunately, the family and friends of nursing home patients are often the last know when abuse has occurred as they've placed their trust in the facility's management. If your loved one has been injured in a facility, contact a healthcare/nursing home abuse attorney in your state to find out what you can do to help.