HUNTINGTON - A lawsuit against HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Huntington that alleged a patient slipped on a ketchup packet has been settled and dismissed from federal court.

Rebound LLC is doing business as HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Huntington.

On Sept. 18, a proposed dismissal order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at Huntington.

The parties announced to the court that all matters in controversy have been resolved and jointly moved the court to dismiss the action with prejudice, according to the order.

On April 29, 2009, Ruth Royal entered HealthSouth on an inpatient basis to receive physical rehabilitation due to undergoing a total left hip replacement surgery at the VA Hospital in Huntington, according to a complaint filed July 26, 2011.

Royal claimed upon admission to its facility, HealthSouth recognized that due to her recent hip surgery, she would require assistance with all transferring and ambulating activities to prevent the risk of falling.

On May 1, 2009, at approximately 1 a.m., while a patient of HealthSouth, Royal began demonstrating severe confusion and disorientation and was unable to remember that she was in a healthcare facility or that she had recently undergone surgery on her hip, according to the suit.

Royal claimed her altered mental state was evidenced by her repeated attempts to leave her hospital room and advising the staff that she wanted to go back to her bed.

Throughout the morning and afternoon of May 1, 2009, Royal's confusion and disorientation persisted, and she continued with her impulsive behavior by getting out of bed and ambulating without assistance, the suit says. During this time, she began staring out the window in her hospital room and was unable to properly communicate with the staff of HealthSouth, according to the suit.

Royal claimed at 2 p.m., a staff member called her family to advise that she was "out of it" and during this period of time, whenever Royal got out of bed, a staff member would assistant her back into her hospital bed and advise her to use the nurse call button for assistance with getting out of her bed.

As a result of Royal's altered mental state, she was unable to realize and/or appreciate her physical limitations and was unable to comprehend the instructions given by HealthSouth staff, according to the suit.

Royal claimed despite being aware of her confused and disoriented mental condition, HealthSouth never placed any time of restraint system on Royal to prevent her from physically getting out of the hospital bed.

The defendants left Royal unattended in her room and at 4 p.m., brought her dinner that included a packet of ketchup, which fell to the floor on the right side of her bed, according to the suit.

Royal claimed at approximately 6 p.m., she attempted to get out of her hospital bed and slipped on the ketchup packet and fell to the ground and was injured.

Royal was seeking compensatory damages in the amount of $668,550 with pre- and post-judgment interest. She was being represented by Charles M. Johnstone II and Jamie F. Little of Johnstone & Gabhart LLP.

The defendant was represented by Marc E. Williams, Randall L. Saunders and Sarah B. Massey of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.

The case was assigned to District Judge Robert Chambers.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at Huntington case number: 3:11-cv-00508

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Organizations in this Story

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
949 3rd Avenue
Huntington, WV 25701

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