Defense opens in woman's suit against Rosewood Care Center

Amelia Flood Jun. 23, 2011, 9:51am


The defense got under way Thursday in a woman's personal injury suit filed against Rosewood Care Center.

Dr. Gregory Compton, a medical expert from South Carolina, took the stand for the nursing home and testified for just under three hours that included a contentious cross examination by plaintiff's attorney Samantha Unsell.

Unsell represents plaintiff Delia Marguerite Giannini who is suing Rosewood for damages in excess of $75,000 and other relief.

Although he objected frequently, defense counsel Dennis McCubbin was overruled by St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson and the defense attorney tendered at least two running objections during the morning's testimony.

Giannini claims that Rosewood violated the standard of care during her 49-hour stay at the facility in 2005.

While at the defendant's nursing and rehab center, Giannini claims she fractured her left knee when she fell while trying to get out of her wheel chair.

Testimony and evidence presented by the plaintiff Tuesday indicated that Giannini suffered from confusion, a brain infection and osteoporosis.

The plaintiff's case included testimony from a former Rosewood nurse who assessed Giannini to be a fall risk.

That witness, Janet Holcomb, gave conflicting statements in her testimony and on cross examination about what measures should have been taken to prevent Giannini's injuries.

Compton testified that he believed Giannini's facture was not the result of her fall at all.

While stressing that he was not in the room and that no one had directly witnessed the fall, Compton said he believed Giannini's previous left knee replacement and history of osteoporosis meant the fracture had likely occurred before the fall and not as its result.

"This fracture is extremely unusual," Compton said.

He noted the lack of bruising that he would have expected if the plaintiff had struck her knee and told jurors that doctors at both Memorial and Barnes-Jewish Hospital did not note bruising either.

"If there was an impact, you would expect some bruising," the doctor said.

On cross examination, Unsell stressed numerous times the paid nature of Compton's testimony.

Compton testified that he was receiving $3,500 to testify Wednesday and noted that he worked for both plaintiffs and defendants as an expert.

Compton bristled at points in Unsell's line of questioning about the payment.

"Nobody works for nothing," Compton said at one point. "But I'm not being paid to give testimony. I'm being paid to analyze things."

Unsell moved on to ask Compton about the testimony of two orthopedic surgeons who examined Giannini, drawing objections from McCubbin and statements by Compton that he had not seen the testimony and had not read those depositions.

Unsell also questioned Compton at length about provisions in Giannini's care plan.

The care plan line of questioning caused one of McCubbin's running objections.

Compton maintained his opinion that Giannini's fracture was not caused by the fall and that she should have been allowed to move freely while at Rosewood.

"You can't take everyone in a nursing home and disallow them from moving around a room," Compton said. "What I'm saying is that you don't have to have someone with her at all times."

Compton said several times that Unsell was "mischaracterizing" his statements and that her line of questioning was "not fair."

The pair interrupted each other at a number of points during the cross examination and even spoke over Gleeson as he tried to rule on McCubbin's objections.

The defense was set to continue its case after the lunch break.

The trial began Monday with jury selection.

The case is St. Clair case number 06-L-456.

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