On April 7, 2011, James Romano, previously a lively, mostly ambulatory and self-sufficient 84 year old, was admitted to a rehabilitation facility in Staten Island to recover from a fall at home three days earlier in which he fractured a thoracic vertebrae. It was anticipated he’d recover in about two weeks. He was placed in a wheelchair to facilitate his recovery but on April 14, 2011 he fell out of the wheelchair and sustained a hip fracture.

Tragically, Mr. Romano deteriorated and was never able to return home. He died at the rehabilitation facility three years later on March 22 , 2014.

Mr. Romano’s widow sued the facility and the Richmond County jury determined that the facility was negligent in failing to protect Mr. Romano from falling. The jury then awarded pain and suffering damages in the sum of $6,000,000 for three years of pain and suffering.

The trial judge ordered that the award be reduced to $500,000. In Romano v. Clove Lakes Health Care and Rehabilitation, Inc. (2d Dept. 2024), the appellate court ruled that the trial judge’s reduction was too steep and determined that the reduction should have been to $1,000,000.

Here are the injury details:

  • Displaced hip (femoral neck) fracture requiring emergent partial hip replacement (hemiarthroplasty) surgery
  • Six months of grueling physical therapy after which he could not walk and was wheelchair bound permanently
  • Severe and permanent pain

Inside Information:

  • In closing arguments, plaintiff’s attorney asked the jury to award $4,000,000.
  • The defense argued that Mr. Romano recovered from his hip fracture in two months, he had no ongoing pain related to the fracture and that his inability to walk was related to his Parkinson’s and dementia.