Family Accepts Reduced Damages in Greenbrier Nursing Home Case

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 12:00 am  

Michael Maggio

A Perry County family has decided not to appeal a Faulkner County Circuit Court judge’s unusual decision to slash a $5.2 million judgment against the Greenbrier Nursing & Rehabilitation Center to $1 million.

“Ultimately, it’s the client’s decision,” said Thomas Buchanan of Little Rock, one of the attorneys who represented sisters Rosey Perkins and Rhonda Coppak, administrators of the estate of their mother, Martha Bull. Bull died at the nursing home in 2008. “We made our recommendations, and the client made the decision to go ahead and accept the reduced judgment.”

The plaintiffs received the $1 million on Aug. 26, according to court records.

Faulkner County Judge Michael Maggio ruled on July 11 that the sisters had the choice of taking the reduced judgment or facing a new trial of their lawsuit.

Buchanan said the family could have appealed Maggio’s ruling to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, but the appeals process would have dragged the case on for another 18 months or more.

And if they lost the appeal, there would have been a new trial. Going to trail again would have been risky for the plaintiffs because the defendants now knew Buchanan’s trial strategy. In addition, defendants usually win in civil cases.

Still, if Buchanan won the appeal, the court could have reinstated the $5.2 million judgment or awarded a lower amount.

“In the end, there was just no way that we could try the case again,” Buchanan said. “If it got affirmed, that’s great. … [But] we shouldn’t have to be put in that position.”

One of Greenbrier Nursing & Rehab’s attorneys, Jeff Hatfield of Little Rock, said Greenbrier is “a good nursing home” and the people who made the mistakes involving Bull no longer work there.

“The folks that are there are committed to providing good nursing care,” he said. “The situation is very, very unfortunate.”

The Case

Bull was 76 years old when she went into the nursing home for therapy after a stroke. She also was suffering from an abdominal abscess.



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