Originally posted by Scott Johnson on news4jax.com
A major legal victory for a family who says an elderly woman was injured in a Jacksonville memory care facility back in 2017.
Now the family of Anne Fiorito has won a lawsuit worth around $2.5 million against the Vitas Healthcare Corporation of Florida. The jury handed down its decision on May 6.
The incident happened in 2017 when Fiorito suffered an eye injury. She was living in a memory care facility at the Cypress Village Retirement Community near the Mayo Clinic at the time.
While in that unit, Vitas was contracted to handle Fiorito’s care. After the incident, Fiorito was diagnosed with multiple hemorrhages in her eye along with a detached retina. As a result, she lost sight in her eye for the remainder of her life. Fiorito passed away in early 2018.
The lawsuit was filed by her family.
“It was devastating to know that mom was supposedly being taken care of and something this tragic would happen to her,” said her daughter who asked to not be named. “It’s been a long time but we now have justice for my mom. It takes a long time but it all worked out and I’m so happy that it did. It’s just, you have to treat elderly people with dignity.”
News4Jax also spoke with the lawyer for the family Steve Watrel of Coker Law.
“When you look at the totality of the evidence in the case it was either her fist or elbow that struck Miss Fiorito in the eye,” said Watrel.
However, he did say the nursing assistant working with Ms. Fiorito at the time never admitted to striking her.
“The doctor said it was from a direct blow to the eye. It wasn’t from shampoo or something else,” Watrel said.
Watrel said the two sides did discuss a possible settlement at one point but could not reach an agreement and a jury trial was eventually scheduled.
The primary family member Watrel represented is Fiorito’s husband Joe Fiorito who is in his 90s.
Watrel said Fiorito paid around $10,000 a month for her housing in the memory unit. Roughly $5,000 a month to Vitas and then the other $5,000 to the facility. While other parties like the facility where this happened were mentioned in the initial complaint, it was Vitas that was the only party in the eventual jury trial.
Vitas is a large corporation that offers hospice and palliative care to elderly residents in Florida and other states.
News4Jax has reached out to Vitas at both the corporate and local level for comment and will update this story when we receive a response.