A circuit judge has granted a request for a $50 million bond to be obtained on behalf of the plaintiffs in a nursing home lawsuit that resulted in a $91 million jury verdict.
That 2011 verdict, obtained on behalf of the family of 87-year-old Dorothy Douglas, has been appealed to the state Supreme Court. The lawsuit alleged Douglas died as a result of neglect at Heartland of Charleston, owned by Manor Care Inc.
Michael Fuller, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told Kanawha Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib that a bond was necessary as the higher court considered that monetary award.
Fuller said the nursing home is covered by two primary insurance companies - Manor Care Insurance Ltd. and AIG - for any amount over $10 million. But several other insurers are involved as well.
"The purpose of a bond is to protect my clients while they appeal," Fuller told the judge. "If any of those insurance companies go insolvent, that would leave a gap before the next level of insurance would kick in."
Benjamin Bailey, defense attorney for Manor Care, said he didn't object, but he asked the judge to grant a $10 million bond.
Bailey said, "We need to post a bond. We propose $10 million. A bond above that is insurance above insurance.
"It seems unnecessary and will benefit only who we buy the bond from. Ten million dollars is plenty to take care of the plaintiffs."
Fuller said, "The bond is to protect what we have already obtained, the judgment."