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Jury Awards $2 Million in Patient's Death

State limits, however, will reduce the amount to a couple whose son died after developing bedsores in an Oxnard nursing home.

March 13, 2004|Lynne Barnes | Times Staff Writer

A jury Friday awarded $2 million to the parents of a man who died after developing debilitating bedsores in an Oxnard nursing home.

But the amount against CareMeridian in Oxnard will be reduced to about $500,000 because of state limits on medical awards, attorney Marc Anderson said.

Anderson represented Salvador and Ofelia Camacho, parents of 41-year-old Arturo Camacho, who suffered from quadriplegia and a traumatic brain injury after a motorcycle accident in 1979.

The Camachos cared for their son for years until he developed a bedsore and a conservator ordered that he receive "a higher level of care," Anderson said.

Camacho ended up in CareMeridian in March 2001, Anderson said.

"He entered the facility in pretty good shape," Anderson said. "When he was discharged [to the hospital], he had five decubitus bedsores, two of them so deep you could see down to the bone."

Camacho died two days after he was transferred from CareMeridian to St. John's Regional Medical Center, Anderson said.

Although he died of pneumonia, Anderson said Camacho was "fighting a two-front war. His body was trying to heal the ulcers when he gets hit with pneumonia."

With their verdict, Anderson said, jurors found that the staff members of CareMeridian were reckless because they failed to respond to Camacho's failing health.

Stephen Hewitt, the attorney for CareMeridian, whose parent company is based in Orange County, said he "was surprised by the outcome and disappointed that jurors did not see beyond the [medical] records to the actual care that was given to Mr. Camacho.

"But based on the jurors' comments following the trial, CareMeridian was pleased to learn the jurors did not believe there was any intentional wrongdoing."

Hewitt said the state investigated Camacho's death and took no action.

Anderson said Arturo Camacho grew up in Oxnard as one of nine siblings. His parents are Pentecostal ministers who own a Christian bookstore, he said.

They testified during the trial, along with two of Arturo's siblings, that "Arturo was still very much a part of the family."

He recognized and laughed with family members, Anderson said, and communicated through eye blinks.

The jury awarded $1 million to the parents for the loss of their son and $1 million to Arturo Camacho's estate as compensation for his pain and suffering, Anderson said.

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