No verdict yet in Rosewood Care Center trial

Ann Knef Oct. 19, 2007, 2:44am



Madison County jurors appeared deadlocked Thursday after more than a full day of deliberations in a wrongful death trial against Rosewood Care Center of Edwardsville.

They were to resume at 9 a.m. Friday.

The nursing home is accused of negligently caring for resident Margaret Schwab who injured her neck and back after falling in her room on Dec. 21, 2003. A lawsuit filed in 2004 claimed her injuries led to her death.

Jurors began deliberating late Wednesday afternoon whether they should compensate Schwab's family $1 million in compensatory damages.

During closing arguments plaintiff attorney Craig Jensen said the case has never been about the money.

"What it's been about is the only justice available," Jensen said.

The case is about responsibility, he said.

"It's about (their) failure to take responsibility for Ms. Schwab," he said. "They didn't do it then and they're not doing it now."

Jensen said the case was not aimed personally at Rosewood's employees, including the various staff members who testified during the five-day trial.

"This case has never been about hurting any of the employees," Jensen said. "It's the corporation."

Jensen pondered why the corporate owners had their administrator sit through the trial rather than themselves. He also said that Rosewood employees are "victims of systematic failure by a corporation to give them what they need."

"Where are the corporation representatives when you need them?" Jensen said.

During the trial Jensen pressed Rosewood's witnesses on whether Mrs. Schwab's bedside call light was within reach, whether she was confused by narcotics and whether she had been properly assessed as a fall risk, among other things.

He said the defendant had done an "about face" during the trial by blaming Mrs. Schwab for her fall.

He said it was as if the defendant was wearing rose tinted glasses, after describing the "two sides of Rosewood."

"They want you to see their image through rose tinted glasses," he said. "The reality does not match the image."

Rosewood attorney Stephen Strum said the nursing staff witnesses put before the jury were "mentally beaten up" by attorney Jensen.

"And they didn't deserve it," Strum said.

He said that people who care for the elderly are "very special" people.

"Rather than beat them up and make them look like fools and idiots we ought to embrace them," he said.

Several staff members who testified earlier in the trial said they were drawn to working in nursing homes because they have a particular compassion and patience for caring for elderly patients.

Strum said that Mrs. Schwab's family was happy with her treatment and that there was "not one single complaint from them." He said that good nursing judgment was used in her care.

But every day during the trial Jensen brought increasing criticisms, Strum said.

"Every day it was something new," he said.

"He's throwing up everything against the wall hoping something will stick," Strum said.

He said that evidence shows that Mrs. Schwab received "excellent care."

Strum said he didn't have on rose colored glasses. "Someone else might," he said.

He asked jurors to use their common sense in reaching a decision.

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