Sample Nursing Home Negligence Jury Instructions

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Jury Instructions

Now that the evidence has concluded, I will instruct you as to the law and your duties.

The law regarding this case is contained in the instructions I will give to you. You must consider the Court's instructions as a whole, not picking out some instructions and disregarding others.

It is your duty to resolve this case by determining the facts based on the evidence and following the law given in the instructions. Your verdict must not be based upon speculation, prejudice, or sympathy. Each party, whether a corporation or individual, should receive your same fair consideration. My rulings, remarks or instructions do not indicate any opinion as to the facts.

You will decide what facts have been proven. Facts may be proven by evidence or reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence. Evidence consists of the testimony of witnesses and of exhibits admitted by the court. You should consider all the evidence without regard to which party produced it. You may use common sense gained from your experiences in life, in evaluating what you see and hear during trial.

You are the only judges of the credibility of the witnesses. You will decide the weight to be given to the testimony of each of them. In evaluating the credibility of a witness, you may consider that witness' ability and opportunity to observe, memory, manner, interest, bias, qualifications, experience, and any previous inconsistent statement or act by the witness concerning an issue important to the case.

You should not do any independent investigation or research on any subject relating to the case. What you may have seen or heard outside the courtroom is not evidence. This includes any press, radio, or television programs and it also includes any information available on the Internet. Such programs, reports, and information are not evidence and your verdict must not be influenced in any way by such material.

For example, you must not use the Internet or any other sources that you might use every day, to search for any information about the case, or the law which applies to the case, or the people involved in the case, including the parties, witnesses, lawyers, and judge.

You cannot use any electronic devices or services to communicate about this case, and this includes cell phones, lap tops, and any other tools of technology. The use of any such devices or services in connection with your duties is prohibited.

The reason for these instructions is that your verdict must be based only on the evidence presented in this courtroom and the law I will provide to you in my instructions. It would be unfair to the parties and a violation of your oath to base your decision on information from outside this courtroom. You should feel free to remind each other that your verdict is to be based only on the evidence admitted in court and that you cannot use information from any other sources. If you become aware of any violation of these instructions, it is your legal duty to report this to me immediately.

Disobeying these instructions could cause a mistrial, meaning all of our efforts have been wasted and we would have to start over again with a new trial. If you violate these instructions you could be found in contempt of court.

An opening statement is what an attorney expects the evidence will be. A closing argument is given at the conclusion ?? case and is a summary of what an attorney contends the evidence has shown.

If any statement or argument of an attorney is not supported by the law or the evidence, you should disregard that statement or argument.

The testimony of Dr. Kranzler was presented by video tape. You should give this testimony the same consideration you would give it had the witness personally appeared in court.

A fact or a group of facts, may, based on logic and common sense, lead you to a conclusion as to other facts. This is known as circumstantial evidence. For example, if you are in a building and a person enters who is wet and is holding an umbrella, you might conclude that it was raining outside. A fact may be proved by circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is entitled to the same consideration as any other type of evidence.

You have heard a witness give opinions about matters requiring special knowledge or skill. You should judge this testimony in the same way you judge the testimony from any other witness. The fact that such person has given an opinion does not mean that you are required to accept it. Give the testimony whatever weight you think it deserves, considering the reasons given for the opinion, the witness' qualifications, and all of the other evidence in the case.

When I say that a party has the burden of proof on any proposition, or use the expression “if you find,” or “if you decide,” I mean you must be persuaded, considering all the evidence in the case, that the proposition on which he has the burden of proof is more probably true than not true.

When I use the word “negligence” in these instructions, I mean the failure to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or the doing of something which a reasonably careful person would not do, under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence. The law does not say how a reasonably careful person would act under those circumstances. That is for you to decide.

When I use the expression “proximate cause,” I mean a cause which, in the natural or ordinary course of events, produced the injury. It need not be the only cause, nor the last or nearest cause. It is sufficient if it combines with another cause resulting in the injury.

The plaintiff has the burden of proving each of the following propositions as to each defendant:

First, that the defendant acted or failed to act in one of the ways claimed by the plaintiff as stated to you in these instructions and that in so acting, or failing to act, the defendant was negligent;

Second, that the plaintiff was injured.

Third, that the negligence of the defendant was a proximate cause of the injury to the plaintiff.

You are to consider these propositions as to each defendant separately.

If you find from your consideration of all the evidence that each of these propositions has not been proved as to any one defendant or all of the defendants, then your verdict shall be for that defendant or those defendants. On the other hand, if you find from your consideration of all the evidence that all of these propositions have been proved as to any one defendant or all of the defendants, then your verdict shall be for the plaintiff as to that defendant or those defendants.

The plaintiff claims that Emilio Opio was injured, and that the defendants, Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion, Jan Kaval, Federick Ramos, Patricia Martinez, and Janet Jarvis were negligent in one or more of the following respects:

1. That Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion, Jan Kaval, Federick Ramos, and/or Patricia Martinez failed to communicate the fall care plan interventions to the staff.

2. That Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion, Jan Kaval, Federick Ramos, Patricia Martinez, and/or Janet Jarvis failed to make sure that Mr. Opio had a pommel cushion on his wheelchair on May 21, 2006.

3. That Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion, Jan Kaval, Federick Ramos, Patricia Martinez, and/or Janet Jarvis failed to make sure that Mr. Opio had a chair alarm on his wheelchair on May 21, 2006.

4. That Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion, Jan Kaval, Federick Ramos, Patricia Martinez, and/or Janet Jarvis failed to make sure that Mr. Opio was closely monitored in the dining room on May 21, 2006.

5. That Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion, Jan Kaval, Federick Ramos, Patricia Martinez, and/or Janet Jarvis failed to make sure that Mr. Opio was brought up close to the dining room table with his wheelchair wheels locked on May 21, 2006.

6. That Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion by its Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA's) failed to place a pommel cushion on Mr. Opio's wheelchair on May 21, 2006.

7. That Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion by its Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA's) failed to place a wheelchair alarm on Mr. Opio's wheelchair on May 21, 2006.

The plaintiff further claims that one or more of the foregoing was a proximate cause of Emilio Opio's injuries.

The defendants deny that they were negligent and deny that any claimed act or omission on their part was a proximate cause of Emilio Opio's injuries.

The rights of the defendants, Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion, Jan Kaval, Federick Ramos, Patricia Martinez, and Janet Jarvis, are separate and distinct. Each is entitled to a fair consideration of his or her own defense and you will decide each defendant's case separately as if it were a separate lawsuit. Each defendant's case must be governed by the instructions applicable to that case.

The defendants are sued as principal and agent. The defendant, Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a Imperial Grove is the principal and the defendants, Jan Kaval, Federick Ramos, Patricia Martinez, and Janet Jarvis are its agents. If you find that the any of the defendants, Federick Ramos, Patricia Martinez, or Janet Jarvis is liable, then you must find that the defendant, Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a Imperial Grove is also liable.

The defendant is a corporation and can act only through its officers and employees. Any act or omission of an officer or employee within the scope of his employment is the action or omission of the defendant corporation.

If you decide for a defendant on the question of liability you will have no occasion to consider the question of damages as to that defendant.

If you decide that a defendant was negligent and that their negligence was a proximate cause of injury to the plaintiff, it is not a defense that something else may also have been a cause of the injury.

However, if you decide that the sole proximate cause of injury to the plaintiff was something other than the conduct of the defendant, then your verdict should be for the defendant.

Negligence by a nursing home is the failure to do something that a reasonably careful nursing home would do, or the doing of something that a reasonably careful nursing home would not do, under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence.

In deciding whether Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion was negligent you may consider opinion testimony, evidence of professional standards, evidence of rules, regulations, policies and procedures and other evidence presented in this case.

The law does not say how a reasonably careful nursing home would act under these circumstances. That is for you to decide.

There was in force in the State of Illinois and in the United States of America at the time of the occurrence in question certain administrative regulations which provided that:

A. The facility must operate and provide services in compliance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws, regulations, and codes, and with accepted professional standards and principles that apply to professionals providing services in such a facility.

B. An owner, licensee, administrator, employee, or agent of the facility shall not neglect a resident.

C. The facility must provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychological well-being of the resident, in accordance with each resident's comprehensive assessment and plan of care.

D. The facility shall have written policies and procedures, governing all services provided by the facility which shall be formulated by a Resident Care Policy Committee consisting of at least the administrator, the advisory physician or the medical advisory committee and representatives of nursing and other services in the facility. These written policies shall be followed in operating the facility...

E. Adequate and properly supervised nursing care and personal care shall be provided to each resident to meet the total nursing and personal care needs of the resident.

F. All necessary precautions shall be taken to assure that the residents' environment remains as free of accident hazards as possible.

G. All nursing personnel shall evaluate residents to see that each resident receives adequate supervision and assistance to prevent accidents.

H. The facility must develop a comprehensive care plan for each resident that includes measurable objectives and timetables to meet a resident's medical, nursing, and mental and psychosocial needs that are identified in the comprehensive assessment. The care plan must describe the following:

The services that are to be furnished to attain or maintain the resident's highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.

I. The administrator is the person who is directly responsible for the operation and administration of the facility, irrespective of the assigned title.

J. Director of Nursing Service is the full-time Professional Registered Nurse who is directly responsible for the immediate supervision of the nursing services.

K. The DON shall supervise and oversee the nursing services of the facility, including:

1) Assigning and directing the activities of nursing service personnel.

3) Developing an up-to-date resident care plan for each resident based on the resident's comprehensive assessment, individual needs and goals to be accomplished, physician's orders, and personal care and nursing needs.

6) Developing and maintaining nursing service objectives, standards of nursing practice, written policies and procedures, and written job descriptions for each level of nursing personnel.

7) Coordinating the care and services provided to residents in the nursing facility.

If you decide that Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion, Jan Kaval, Federick Ramos, Patricia Martinez, or Janet Jarvis violated the administrative regulations on the occasion in question, then you may consider that fact together with all the other facts and circumstances in evidence in determining whether and to what extent, if any, Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove Pavilion, Jan Kaval, Federick Ramos, Patricia Martinez, or Janet Jarvis were negligent before and at the time of the occurrence.

A nursing home administrator must possess and use the knowledge, skill, and care ordinarily used by a reasonably carefulnursing home administrator. The failure to do something that a reasonably careful nursing homeadministrator would do, or the doing of something that a reasonably careful nursing home administrator would not do, under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence is “professional negligence”.

The phrase “deviation from the standard of care” means the same thing as “professional negligence”.

The law does not say how a reasonably careful nursing home administrator would act under these circumstances. That is for you to decide. In reaching your decision, you must rely upon opinion testimony from qualified witnesses and evidence of professional standards. You must not attempt to determine how a reasonably careful nursing homeadministrator would act from any personal knowledge you may have.

A nurse must possess and use the knowledge, skill, and care ordinarily used by a reasonably careful nurse. The failure to do something that a reasonably careful nurse would do, or the doing of something that a reasonably careful nurse would not do, under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence is “professional negligence”.

The phrase “deviation from the standard of care” means the same thing as “professional negligence”.

The law does not say how a reasonably careful nurse would act under these circumstances. That is for you to decide. In reaching your decision, you must rely upon opinion testimony from qualified witnesses and evidence of professional standards. You must not attempt to determine how a reasonably careful nurse would act from any personal knowledge you may have.

It was the duty of the defendant, Janet Jarvis, before and at the time of the occurrence, to use ordinary care for the safety of Mr. Opio. That means it was the duty of the defendant, Janet Jarvis, to be free from negligence.

If you decide for the plaintiff on the question of liability, you may not deny or limit the plaintiff's right to damages resulting from this occurrence because any injury resulted from a pre-existing condition which rendered the plaintiff more susceptible to injury.

The plaintiff Mary Lou St. Aubin brings this action in a representative capacity by reason of her being the representative of the estate of Emilio Opio, deceased. She represents herself, her brother and sisters, and the estate of the deceased. They are the real parties in interest in this lawsuit, and in that sense are the real plaintiffs whose damages you are to determine if you decide for the representative of the estate of Emilio Opio.

If you decide for the plaintiff on the question of liability, you must then fix the amount of money which will reasonably and fairly compensate the children of the decedent for the pecuniary loss proved by the evidence to have resulted to Mary Lou St. Aubin, Sylvia Opio, Wilfredo Opio, and Margarita Vasquez from the death of Emilio Opio. “Pecuniary loss” may include loss of benefits and society.

Where a decedent leaves a child, the law recognizes a presumption that the child has sustained some substantial pecuniary loss by reason of the death. The weight to be given to this presumption is for you to decide from the evidence in this case.

In determining pecuniary loss, you may consider what the evidence shows concerning the following:

1. His age;

2. His sex;

3. His health;

4. The relationship between Emilio Opio and Mary Lou St. Aubin, Sylvia Opio, Margarita Vasquez, and Wilfredo Opio.

Under the Wrongful Death claim, in determining “pecuniary loss” you may not consider the grief or sorrow of the next of kin.

When I use the term “society” in these instructions, I mean the mutual benefits that each family member receives from the other's continued existence, including love, affection, care, attention, companionship, comfort, guidance, and protection.

If you find for the plaintiff, then in assessing damages you may consider how long Mary Lou St. Aubin, Sylvia Opio, Wilfredo Opio, and Margarita Vasquez will be likely to sustain pecuniary losses as a result of Emilio Opio's death, considering how long Emilio Opio was likely to have lived.

According to a table of mortality in evidence, the life expectancy of a male person aged 82 years is 6.9 years. These figures are not conclusive. They are the average life expectancies of persons who have reached those ages. They may be considered by you in connection with other evidence relating to the probable life expectancy of Emilio Opio including evidence of the decedent's occupation, health, habits and activities, bearing in mind that some persons live longer and some persons live less than the average.

If you decide for the plaintiff on the question of liability, you must then fix the amount of money which will reasonably and fairly compensate the estate for any of the following elements of damages proved by the evidence to have resulted from the negligence of a defendant or defendants, during the period between the time of the decedent's injuries and the time of his death, taking into consideration the nature, extent, and duration of the injury.

a. The pain and suffering experienced by Emilio Opio as a result of the injury.

b. The disability resulting from the injury

c. The disfigurement resulting from the injury.

d. The reasonable expense of necessary medical care, treatment, and services received.

Whether any of these elements of damages has been proved by the evidence is for you to determine.

When you retire to the jury room you will first select a foreperson. He or she will preside during your deliberations.

Your verdict must be unanimous.

Forms of verdicts are supplied with these instructions. After you have reached your verdict, fill in and sign the appropriate form of verdict and return it to the court. Your verdict must be signed by each of you. You should not write or mark upon this or any of the other instructions given to you by the court.

The parties in this case are:

Plaintiff: Mary Lou St. Aubin as Special Representative of the Estate of Emilio Opio

Defendants: Claridge Imperial, Ltd. d/b/a The Imperial Grove

Jan Kaval

Federick Ramos

Patricia Martinez

Janet Jarvis

If you find for the plaintiff and against any of the defendants, then you should use Verdict Form A.

If you find in favor of all defendants then you should use Verdict Form B.

VERDICT FORM B

We, the jury, find for the defendants and against the plaintiff.

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Foreperson______________________________
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