January 4, 2024

$500K Licensed Care Provider Abuse & Neglect Settlement For Developmentally Disabled Client Who Suffered Burns

Our client is a 44-year-old female with developmental disabilities, and other mental health conditions. At the time of the incident, the client was living at Defendant Center for Developmentally Disabled (hereinafter “CDD”), a home for disabled individuals contracted with the state of Missouri to care for and provide safety to said individuals. On the date of the incident, our client’s caretaker cooked spaghetti in boiling water without straining the spaghetti from the boiling water before serving it to our client on a plate. When our client sat down on the couch to eat and watch tv, which was part of regular routine, the client’s plate spilled onto her lap. Due to the client’s developmental disabilities, she did not get the spaghetti off her lap because she was afraid to make a mess on the floor and that she would get in trouble. Our client was screaming for help due to pain but the CDD’s employee was not quick to respond. Eventually they got the spaghetti off our client and took her to the ER. Following the incident, the client suffered severe third-degree burns to her stomach and pelvic region, requiring two 8-inch skin grafts.

Defendant tried to defend the case on the grounds that our client was not that disabled, stating that she was very capable and high functioning, and that she shouldn’t have spilled the spaghetti on herself. Stephen Bishop, the attorney, on the case won several discovery disputes regarding defendants’ policies and procedures, their employee files, and defendant’s alleged “employee handbook”. Eventually, the Defendant had to produce the items, all of which proved helpful to the Plaintiff.

As it turns out, the Defendant’s employee who cooked the burning spaghetti was being terribly overworked. Two months before Tobie was burned, the employee had an evaluation in which the directors noted that she should be watched for burnout. This is because she was working two full time jobs 5 days a week, back-to-back shifts. 1 shift from 7 – 330 pm and the second from 4 – 11 pm. She had also had several previous write-ups and incident reports regarding theft and bad interactions.

Additionally, the defendants’ employees were never trained on cooking or food safety.

After about 10 depositions, Stephen Bishop mediated the case, but the defendant would not pay more than $200,000.00.

Our B&C team did not stop. Next, our attorney took the defendant’s expert deposition, during which Stephen got the expert to make several terrible admissions for the Defendant’s case. The deposition was the icing on the cake; the Defendant wanted to settle shortly thereafter.

After the depo, Stephen agreed that they should not take less than a $500,000.00 settlement on the case. For anything less than that, they agreed it was worth going to trial. Stephen  had focus-grouped the case 2-3 different times resulting in great feedback, and stuck to his number for the rest of the litigation, even though the Defendant tried numerous times to offer $300K, then $400K, then $450K, then $475K…..however, Stephen never budged. He was ready to try the case if the Defendant had not paid the 500,000.00. Two weeks before the trial, the defendant did just that. They paid our goal of $500,000.00!  The client will receive around $236,000 after liens, expenses, and trust fees – all of which will go exclusively to her in a trust designed to care for her and her special needs.

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