The plaintiff’s decedent, a 92-year-old resident of the defendant nursing home facility, was seated in her wheelchair, which was located at the entrance to her bedroom. As she patiently waited for her private care attendant to return to her room with a pillow, a rolling food cart, which was being pushed down the hallway by an employee of the defendant nursing home, suddenly struck her wheelchair. As a result of the collision between the food cart and the plaintiff’s wheelchair, a carafe of scalding coffee, which had been placed on top of the food cart, toppled over, dousing the plaintiff’s back with burning hot coffee.
The plaintiffs were prepared to offer evidence at trial that the plaintiff’s decedent suffered incredibly painful second degree burns on her back due to the hot coffee. These burns were so severe that they quickly caused large, open, oozing blisters to form, and left her skin inflamed and tender to the touch for several weeks after the incident. The plaintiff’s decedent also required a number of additional hours of private nursing care due to the emotional stress she experienced following the incident. She also had trouble sleeping after the accident because she was unable to lie comfortably on her back.
The depositions taken of the defendant’s 30(b)(6) designate revealed that the defendant’s employee had failed to follow the nursing home’s policy regarding the transport of hot coffee through the facility. The official policy stated that the nursing home’s employee should have placed the carafe containing the hot coffee securely within the rolling food cart instead of on top of it. If the defendant’s employee had complied with this policy and put the carafe safely inside the cart, the carafe would not have fallen on the plaintiff’s decedent and she would not have sustained serious burns when the food cart collided with her wheelchair.
Because of her advanced age, the plaintiff moved for and was granted a speedy trial pursuant to G.L. c. 231, ¤59F, and Mass. R. Civ. P. 40(a). Nevertheless, the plaintiff died approximately three months prior to the trial date due to causes unrelated to the incident.
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