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Jury awards $43.5M for nursing-home death

ROME, Ga., Sept. 4 (UPI) -- A Georgia jury has concluded a former nursing-home operator was responsible for the death of an 80-year-old resident and set damages at $43.5 million.

A jury in Floyd County after a three-day trial ordered George Houser to pay the award to the estate of Morris Ellison, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

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Houser, 62, a lawyer in Sandy Springs, owned the Forum Group Corp., which operated the Moran Lake Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Rome. Houser and his wife, Rhonda Washington Houser, also face federal charges for Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

The lawsuit was filed by Loretta Terhune, Ellison's daughter. She said her father, who was in the nursing home for a year before his death in 2007, broke his hip in a fall there because of negligence.

Houser, who filed for bankruptcy earlier this week, represented himself.

Federal prosecutors say the Housers spent millions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid payments on real estate and other personal expenses instead of on the care of residents at the three homes Houser operated.

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