Family wins $450,000 in wrongful death suit against Lexington Medical nursing home

File photo of nursing home.
File photo of nursing home.

A Lexington County jury has found Lexington Medical Center Extended Care guilty of gross negligence in the death of one of its residents.

Jurors awarded the family of Samuel B. Cunningham $450,000, including $200,000 for Cunningham's pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses, and $250,000 for the family's mental shock and suffering, wounded feelings and loss of companionship.

“We were heartened by the jury’s verdict and hope that it will provide incentive for the facility to get its act together and start treating its residents with the dignity and care that they deserve.," Ken Connor, the Cunningham family's attorney, said in a news release.

Cunningham was admitted to the facility at 815 Old Cherokee Road in Lexington on April 29, 2013, at age 81. He was suffering from dementia and was legally blind.

The family alleged that Cunningham often was found by his family soaked in urine, unclean and lacking in oral care..

Nursing home records showed Cunningham suffered 26 falls, according to Connor's news release. He was found on the floor 19 times without anyone seeing him fall. On one occasion, he was found on the ground outside the building with multiple ant bites, the release said.

The suit alleged improper care; on one occasion, Cunningham fell and required a hip replacement at Lexington Medical Center, which also operates the nursing home.

Cunningham also developed bed sores because of improper care, the suit alleged, and was not properly fed. He also developed pneumonia, which was not addressed in a timely fashion by the nursing home, according to the news release

On July 1, 2015, Cunningham was admitted to Lexington Medical Center suffering from multiple areas of skin breakdown, malnutrition, dehydration and infections, the suit claimed. He was unable to recover from his decline and died two weeks later at Agape Hospice House in Columbia.

Lexington Medical Center issued a statement saying that it "strives every day to meet the health care needs of our community, and as such, we do not agree with the allegations made in this case."

Jennifer Wilson, a spokeswoman for Lexington Medical Center, said it could not elaborate because of patient privacy laws.

The statement from the hospital system said that "Lexington Medical Center Extended Care has been part of the Midlands community for decades. We consider it a privilege to take care of our residents and always work to provide the best care possible."