United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
JANICE COLSTON, as Executrix of the Estate of Tommie Haugabook, deceased PLAINTIFF
REGENCY NURSING, LLC DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. Stivers, Judge United States District Court
matter is before the Court on: (1) Defendant's Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's Statutory &
Negligence Per Se Claims (DN 30); (2) Defendant's Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's Wrongful
Death Beneficiaries' Grief Claims (DN 31); (3)
Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on
Plaintiff's Claim for Punitive Damages (DN 32); (4)
Defendant's Motion to Exclude Medical Causation Testimony
by Nurse Nancy Dion and Certain Arguments by Counsel (DN 33);
and (5) Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's Claims
for Past Medical Expenses (DN 34). For the reasons set forth
below, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (DN 34) is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED AS MOOT
IN PART, and Defendant's other pending motions
are DENIED AS MOOT.
August 6, 2014, Tommie Haugabook (“Haugabook”),
now deceased, was admitted to Regency Center-a nursing home
facility owned and operated by Defendant Regency Nursing, LLC
(“Defendant”). (Compl. ¶ 7, DN 1-2). At that
time of her admission Haugabook suffered from a variety of
medical issues, including acute respiratory failure, diabetes
mellitus, and breast cancer. (Def.'s Expert Witness
Disclosure Ex. E, at 2, DN 26-5 [hereinafter Lehman Report];
Garrett Dep. 7:23-25, Jan. 18, 2017, DN 38-4; Richardson Dep.
42:25-43:1, Jan. 18, 2017, DN 38-3). As a result of these
illnesses Haugabook was bed-ridden and non-verbal, wore a
tracheal tube, and required total assistance from the nurses
at Defendant's facility. (Garrett Dep. 7:23-25; Danielle
Richardson Dep. 28:11-14, Jan. 18, 2017, DN 38-2).
the course of Haugabook's stay at Regency Center, her
daughter, Plaintiff Nicole Colston (“Colston”),
visited her regularly. (Colston Dep. 33:19-34:6, Nov. 10,
2016, DN 39-5). During those visits Colston perceived that
Regency Center nurses were providing Haugabook with
substandard care. Specifically, Colston observed that her
mother's tracheal tube was often dirty and clogged,
causing it to overflow onto Haugabook's chest. (Colston
Dep. 39:9-22). In addition, Colston could regularly smell
Haugabook's urine and feces as a result of the nursing
staff's failure to change Haugabook's diaper.
(Colston Dep. 43:1-19). Colston allegedly reported each
instance of substandard care to the nurses' station near
Haugabook's room, and, in response, the nurses always
told her that they were “short staffed” and would
“get to it when [they] could . . . .” (Colston
many months of care at Regency Center and hospitalizations,
Haugabook died. (Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Pl.'s Claim
Punitive Damages Ex. A, DN 32-2). Her death certificate lists
metastatic breast cancer and chronic respiratory failure as
the official cause of her death. (Def.'s Mot. Summ. J.
Pl.'s Claim Punitive Damages Ex. A; Delagarza Report 3).
as executrix of Haugabook's estate, filed suit against
Defendant raising three causes of action. (Compl.
¶¶ 8-40). The Complaint first alleges that the
nurses at Regency Center acted negligently when they: (1)
failed to perform a variety of tasks-such as ensuring that
Haugabook received adequate skin and “incontinent
care”-and (2) violated Kentucky statutes designed to
protect elderly and incompetent individuals from
abuse. (See Compl. ¶¶ 17(e),
19(a)-(d)). Colston asserts that such failures caused
Haugabook to suffer injuries, including: (1) skin breakdown
around her chest, (2) infections (presumably in her urinary
tract), and (3) dehydration. (Compl. ¶ 13(c)-(g)).
Second, the Complaints avers that the nurses violated KRS
216.515(6) when they subjected Haugabook to “mental and
physical abuse” throughout her stay at Regency
Center. (Compl. ¶ 30(d)). Third, Colston
claims that the nurses' “grossly negligent”
conduct caused Haugabook's death. (Compl. ¶¶
34-37). Further, Colston charges that Defendant is liable for
the nurses' misconduct and that the allegedly negligent
acts were committed with “oppression, fraud, [or]
malice, ” which justifies punitive damages.
(See Compl. ¶¶ 21-28, 40).
parties proceeded with discovery and disclosed their expert
witnesses. Defendant submitted two expert reports-one from
Vincent W. Delagarza, MD (“Delagarza”), the other
from Janine Lehman, RN (“Lehman”). (See
Delagarza Report; Lehman Report). Lehman's report
explained that the nurses at Regency Center complied
“with the applicable standard of care” in caring
for Haugabook, and Delagarza opined that none of the
nurses' alleged misconduct caused Haugabook's skin
breakdown, infections, dehydration, or death. (Lehman Report
1-3; Delagarza Report 5-6; Delagarza Dep. 26:3-21, Aug. 16,
2017, DN 33-3). Plaintiff identified Nancy Dion, RN
(“Dion”) as an expert witness, but never
submitted any documents detailing Dion's expert opinion.
(See Pl.'s Expert Disclosure ¶ 1, DN 22).
In fact, the only portion of Dion's deposition submitted
to this Court was a one-page excerpt in which Dion testified
that she is not qualified to give an opinion on whether the
nurses' alleged negligence caused Haugabook's
injuries. (Dion Dep. 106:4-12, Aug. 4, 2017, DN 32-4
[hereinafter Dion Dep.]).
discovery closed, Defendant filed five motions, all of which
are pending but only one of which is dispositive of
Plaintiff's case, Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment and Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on
Plaintiff's Claims for Past Medical Expenses (DN 34)
(“Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment”).
In that motion, Defendant argues that it is entitled to
summary judgment on each of Plaintiff's claims because
Plaintiff submitted no evidence supporting her claim that the
nurses' alleged misconduct caused Haugabook's
injuries.(Def.'s Mem. Supp. Summ. J. 1-6).
has responded to each pending motion. Importantly, however,
Plaintiff does not attach or cite to evidence in any of her
responses supporting her contention that Defendant's
alleged misconduct caused Haugabook's injuries. (See,
e.g., Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Pl.'s
Claims Past Medical Expenses, DN 35 [hereinafter Pl.'s
Resp. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J.]). Defendant has filed reply
briefs corresponding to each of its motions, largely
reiterating the arguments it raised in its merits briefs.
(See, e.g., Def.'s Reply Supp. Mot. Summ. J., DN
47). The parties have fully briefed the pending motions and
each is ripe for adjudication. As noted, however,
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (DN 34) is
dispositive of the case and, as such, the Court will only
address that motion.