A Richland County jury awarded a Batesburg-Leesville woman $12.3 million Friday in a nursing malpractice case against Columbia’s HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital.
Willie Mae Scott sued over the care received by her common-law husband, Vernon Sulton, over 10 days in 2006.
Actual damages were $4.3 million, and punitive damages were $8 million, in the weeklong trial before Judge Casey Manning.
Scott’s lawyer, Jones Andrews, with the McGowan, Hood & Felder law firm, said Sulton was shot as an innocent bystander in a December 2005 robbery. He was paralyzed from the chest down, hospitalized and, in February 2006, sent to HealthSouth for rehabilitation.
An ulcer “the size of a saucer plate” formed on his back because nurses did not reposition him as often as they should have, Andrews said. “The records seemed to indicate he sat on his back the majority of the time he was there.”
HealthSouth denied responsibility for Sulton’s injuries.
Sulton required numerous surgeries and a colostomy as a result of the ulcer, incurring medical bills of about $500,000, Andrews said.
Punitive damages against medical professionals and hospitals are capped at $350,000 in South Carolina. But juries can still levy large awards in some cases.
Sulton died earlier this year, though Andrews said his death was not related to his hospital care.