CROWN POINT — A Lake Superior Court jury has awarded $9.5 million to a DeMotte family whose father died under the care of a rehabilitation center.
Jurors late last week found in favor of the family of Joseph Lowery, who filed the lawsuit against Vibra Healthcare LLC, of Merrillville, and Citiria Porter, a nurse there.
Kenneth Allen, a Merrillville attorney representing the Lowery family, said the verdict was an Indiana record amount for a wrongful death and “recognized the enormity of his loss. He was on a disability pension, but was a valuable asset to the family and the community. It was wonderful the jury saw that despite the fact he wasn’t a high-wage earner, his life had high value.”
Munster attorney Joseph Stalmack, who defended Vibra and Porter, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Allen said the 49-year-old Lowery, a former school maintenance man, injured his leg in late 2011 while working at home, but didn’t seek medical care until weeks later when he became so ill he was hospitalized for pneumonia caused by an infection in his leg.
Allen said after a week in the hospital, Lowery was released to Vibra to continue rehabilitation of his leg wound. A doctor discovered on Dec. 9, 2011, that Lowery, who was on a blood thinner, was bleeding internally and told the Vibra staff to return Lowery to the hospital immediately.
Allen said Vibra chose to do more testing at their facility. He was eventually moved to a hospital emergency room, but died later that day
“They didn’t do what the doctor told them. They kept him there and as a consequence he died,” Allen said.