Nursing home lawsuit goes to state's highest court

File art

VALDOSTA — A Lowndes County nursing home’s appeal of a $7.6 million lawsuit judgment goes to the Georgia Supreme Court Tuesday.

Arguments will be held in the case of Lowndes County Health Services, LLC vs. Copeland et. al., according to a statement from the court.

Lowndes County Health Services, which does business as Heritage Health Care at Holly Hill, was sued by Gregory Copeland and Marier House in connection to the 2012 death of Copeland’s father, Bobby, according to court documents provided to The Times by attorneys for the Copelands. House is the administrator of Bobby Copeland’s estate.

The lawsuit, filed in 2014, claimed ordinary negligence and violation in the standard of care against Lowndes County Health Services, according to the jury verdict form.

In January 2018, Holly Hill was ordered to pay $7.6 million in damages, but fault for Bobby Copeland’s death was divided between the nursing home and four parties who weren’t part of the trial.

In its filing with the Georgia Court of Appeals, Holly Hill claimed the trial court made an error in rejecting a challenge to the use of a jury strike, court documents show. A “directed verdict” occurs when a trial judge orders a judge to render a certain verdict because no evidence exists to the contrary.

The debate over the jury strike centered on whether a potential juror was stricken for racial reasons, court documents show.

The appeals judge ruled against Holly Hill, records show.

The Georgia Supreme Court is being asked by Holly Hill to “to determine whether the Court of Appeals erred in determining that Copeland’s attorney’s explanation for the exercise of their peremptory strike against Juror No. 11 was race-neutral,” the court statement said.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

React to this story:


Recommended for you