Facts & Allegations On Feb. 24, 2008, plaintiffs’ decedent Clay Nelson, a resident of a nursing home in south-central Tennessee, was found unresponsive during dinner at the nursing home facility. Staff initiated CPR and called 911. When paramedics arrived at the scene, they suctioned multiple pieces of baked pear from Nelson’s airway, including one piece the size of a golf ball. He was transported to a hospital and pronounced dead a few hours later.
The death certificate initially gave the immediate cause of death as acute myocardial infarction, but it was later modified to say asphyxiation by food in the larynx.
Nelson’s family sued the facility for nursing home negligence. They claimed that the nursing home failed to follow dietary recommendations that called for Nelson to be supervised while eating. The plaintiffs also claimed that the nursing home was dangerously understaffed, having too few certified nursing assistants to deliver basic care. They alleged that as a result, there was not enough staff to assist during feeding.
The nursing home, in which its name was withheld as confidential, contended that Nelson had a heart attack, which led to asphyxiation and death. It also contended that the staffing levels were adequate.
The matter was scheduled for binding arbitration with arbitrator John Russell Parks, in Pulaski.