A Livingston County woman has won her lawsuit against a Bloomington-based nursing home company after she allegedly was fired for her role as a whistleblower.
Katrina Wesemann was awarded $5,277,891 last week in her suit against Heritage Enterprises Inc. and its Dwight location. She was employed as a nurse at Heritage Health in Dwight from March 2011 until October 2012, when she allegedly was fired after reporting abuse and neglect of residents. Wesemann now is employed full time at another nursing home.
"Ms. Wesemann refused to follow the director of nursing's orders to 'drop a pill' or double-dose agitated residents with anti-anxiety medications, and refused to delete or omit records of suspicious injuries on residents," Timothy Coffey, one of Wesemann's lawyers, wrote in a news release.
Attorney Amanda S. Yarusso and Loevy and Loevy, a civil rights law firm from Chicago, also represented Wesemann in the case. The jury awarded Wesemann money for lost wages and emotional distress, and added an extra $5 million in punitive damages after hearing "extensive evidence that Heritage Enterprises management employees failed to report, and indeed hid instances of abuse and neglect, and encouraged their employees to do the same" according to the release.
Heritage Enterprises Inc. owns or operates 47 locations, the majority of which are in Illinois. The company employs more than 4,000 people.
"We, at Heritage Enterprises Inc., are deeply disappointed in the verdict delivered in the case of Wesemann v. Heritage Manor-Dwight LLC. We have disputed and continue to dispute and deny the assertions of the plaintiff in this matter," Clay Cox, an attorney for Heritage Enterprises Inc, said in a written statement.
"We fully intend to exercise all available legal remedies to contest this result. Until the legal process concludes, we will have no further comment."