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April 5, 2005     Cape Gazette
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I I CAPE GAZETYE, Tuesday, April 5 - April 7, 2005 - 9 Beebe to seek new trial or reduced verdict By Laura Ritter Beebe Medical Center is seek- ing a new trial after a jury award- ed $13 million to the estate and family of an Alzheimer's patient who was trapped in a freezer at Lewes Convalescent Center and later died of frostbite injuries. In a motion filed last week, the rnedical center, which owns the convalescent center, says com- pared with awards in similar types of cases, the jury's verdict for compensatory damages is "so out of proportion with the injuries as to be shocking to the Court's con- science and sense of justice." The medical center's motion asks Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley to order a new trial or reduce the award. Julie Bailey was admitted to Lewes Convalescent Center Dec. 28, 2002, and within a few hours wandered into a kitchen freezer, where she became trapped. A search by the center's staff, her husband, police and firefighters failed to find her for about four hours. She suffered frostbite to her hands, feet, nose, ears, lips and back, and died from related injuries 24 days later. At the outset of the trial, Beebe admitted that the care the former Beebe Medical Center nurse re- ceived was substandard, that it contributed to her death, and that compensatory damages were owed to- her family and her estate. However, Bailey's husband and sons also sought punitive dam- ages against the hospital, which the hospital rejei:ted. Two expert witnesses and family members testified on issues that applied largely to the family's attempt to prove the basis for punitive dam - ages: that the medical center dis- played a reckless or what previous cases call an "I don't care" atti- tude toward Bailey's care. The jury heard several days of testimony largely related to the punitive damage claim, but that claim never reached the jury for reasons that were not explained during the trial. After the jury's verdict was an- nounced, hospital President and CEO Jeffrey Fried said the puni- tive damage claim had been set- fled out of court. Fried did not dis- close the amount of the settle- ment. According to the judge's in- structions to the jury, because punitive damages were no longer part of the case, jurors were to consider testimony related to the hospital's actions only as it related to the mental anguish of each member of the Bailey family. The judge also instructed the jury that it could not base its award on sympathy for the Bailey family, nor on anger or hostility against the hospital. Despite those instructions, Beebe attorney John Elzufon ar- gues, the jury had heard a "crash- ing" amount of evidence on the punitive damages claim. "...when the punitive damage claim was settled, the jury was de- prived of its opportunity to punish the hospital for its poor behavior," the motion states. "...jurors are only humans .... So much evidence was presented to them that was relevant to the claims of how poorly the defen- dants acted and how insensitive they were that the instructions by the Court could not do away with the emotional buildup that these Continued on page 10 Plant Continued from[page 1 Bunting challenged that decades-old industry assumption, pointing out that the prevailing winds during winter are from the north and west, often sending mil- lions of pounds of airborne pollu- tion south, over coastal Sussex. He also noted that prevailing winds during the summer months are from the south, sending the toxic smoke over Long Neck, Angola, Dewey Beach, Rehoboth Beach and Lewes. It .is the summer Winds that worry Rep. Joe Booth, R- Georgetown, who said he wants to do all he can to protect the citizens of Lewes. Booth chairs the House Natural Resoces Committee. "I would be very interested in looking at Sen. Bunting's propos- al to see if we can make his reso- lution a joint Senate-House reso- lution," Booth said. "I'm familiar with this issue. A resolution would at least be a good first step in fix- ing the problem. It would certain- ly get the energy company's atten- tion." Rep. Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, said he, too, believes some-. thing has to be done to help NRG make the necessary pollution improvements at Indian River Power Plant. "We don't want to force NRG out of business," Hocker said. "It's not all their- fault. That plant has operated the way it is for many, many years, long btfore NRG bought it. It's just like our road system. We've waited way too long to make improvements, and now we're playing catch-up. It will be costly, but we have to step up and help NRG. That power plant is needed here, because if it shuts down, we won't have enough electricity to keep the lights on." Hocker suggested the state could find the money needed to help NRG install better pollution controls through the annual bond bill allocations or by obtaining loans. Last spring during a tour of Indian River Power Plant, NRG Regional Director of Operations Barry T. O'Brien said it would cost at least $80 million to install improved pollution controls at the plant. O'Brien added that NRG owns several older, coal-fired power plants in the mid-Atlantic and New England regions, each of which needs pollution controls. 3 MONTH CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT 6 MONTH. CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT SHORT TERM CERTIFICATES OF DEPOSIT Our Certificates of Deposit earn you the interest, security and flexibili W your hard-earned savings deserve. Community banking at its best. That's Delaware National Bank. ................................................. COMMUNITY BANKING. 302.855.2402 or 888.291.2400 delawarenational.com Member FDIC./nl Ple idd (A is subject 1o ehoe ond moy be wildrown withod nolice. 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