Articles Tagged with nursing home negligence lawyer

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The family of a woman who died after nursing home staff did not take action to resuscitate her when she was found unresponsive has filed a nursing home negligence lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the nursing assistant failed to properly read the patient’s chart, and mistakenly believed it stated she did not wish to be resuscitated. However, that was not the case and the 52,-year-old resident, who was initially only supposed to be at the facility a few weeks after suffering a bad case of pneumonia. However, that stay was extended to six months after she allegedly broke her hip after falling while unattended by staffers. She already suffered from kidney disease and diabetes, and that made recovery that much slower.

Then one morning in March 2006, a nursing assistant discovered her unconscious in her bed. About one half hour later, the facility called emergency services to report a death at the site. The caller noted the woman did not wish to be resuscitated and her family was being notified. Ten minutes later, another call was placed to emergency services. This time, the staffer admitted the nursing assistant had misread the chart, and in fact, the woman had wished to be resuscitated. Those efforts were still underway when emergency responders got there. However, they declared her dead upon arrival.  Continue reading →

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Nursing home abuse lawsuits are often filed as medical malpractice actions. That’s because the cases involve the failure of medical staffers – certified nursing assistants, registered nurses and doctors – to abide by the applicable standard of care. The reason why it is important to distinguish between medical malpractice claims and those involving general negligence is that the process for prevailing on a medical malpractice claim is far more involved. Medical malpractice lawsuits require expert witnesses willing to attest that the medical professionals who are defendants in your case did not meet the basic standards of care, and therefore breached their duty to the patient and should be accountable for resulting injuries. 

This is a stricter standard than general negligence.

In a recent case out of Georgia, a state appellate court has revived a lawsuit against a physician in a small-town nursing home over the treatment of a patient who died after suffering from an infection at the facility stemming from an untreated pressure sore.  Continue reading →

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In Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Community, a federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, plaintiff alleges a discriminatory denial of equal housing opportunity on the basis of her sexual orientation. Specifically, she says the housing center and its managers failed to protect her from other residents who were hostile, verbally insulting and physically abusing her on a regular basis since it became known that her life partner, now deceased, was a woman. 

The woman’s story was recently chronicled by The New York Times, which explained how the 69-year-old plaintiff had been grateful to find the tiny room in the senior living community after losing her life partner of 30 years to colon cancer. She battled health problems herself and didn’t have much in savings. As she began to become acquainted with other residents, she revealed she had raised her son with her partner. That information was not received well, and plaintiff almost instantly knew other residents were upset by it. Word traveled fast.

In the months that followed, she was pushed, shoved and spit on. She suffered injuries including bumps on her head, a black eye and bruising. One male resident in particular was threatened her repeatedly with violence, using obscene language and threatening to “throw you down an elevator shaft.”  Continue reading →

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A widow is suing the nursing home where her husband, a patient, died last year after his clothes caught fire when he was smoking on the balcony, has filed a nursing home negligence lawsuit, alleging both the facility and the county are responsible for violating federal regulations, resulting in her husband’s death. 

Plaintiff’s attorney explained to the Philly Voice that decedent had been diagnosed with a number of diseases and ailments that necessitated assistance with many basic tasks. Yet, he was allowed to smoke unsupervised on the day of his death. Records show plaintiff was being treated for Parkinson’s disease, brain disease and bipolar disorder. He needed help to eat, dress and bathe. On the day of the fire, he was smoking a cigarette alone on a balcony at the facility, when his clothing caught fire. He was almost immediately engulfed in flames. He was seriously injured and died about a month later of those injuries, after enduring tremendous pain and suffering.

Smoking in nursing homes is a hot-button issue. Although cigarette smoking is becoming less prevalent in younger generations, thanks to education and awareness campaigns that accurately warn of the danger, older generations didn’t have that benefit – or often the same restrictions. Many long-time smokers may be in poor health, but they remain passionate about their right to smoke – and that doesn’t necessarily change just because they have entered a nursing home. Every center may have varying policies, but those that do allow smoking by residents have a duty not only to protect the smokers, but to balance those rights with the health and safety of other residents and staffers.  Continue reading →

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Following the enactment of a new federal rule that prohibits the enforcement of arbitration agreements by nursing homes that accept federal funding (virtually all of them), a group of nursing home operators and industry trade groups are challenging the rule. Interestingly, they are doing so through the very avenue of recourse they are seeking to deny nursing home abuse and neglect victims: A lawsuit. 

In case you aren’t familiar with arbitration, it is procedure whereby legal disagreements and disputes are resolved by an arbitrator rather than a judge. The process is often secretive and arbitrators, rewarded handsomely with contracts from large nursing home corporations, often decide cases in favor of the companies. Even when the terms are more or less favorable to the plaintiff, damages awarded are often a fraction of what they would be had the matter been resolved in court. Arbitration agreements are binding contracts that patients and family members enter into by signing documents often buried in nursing home admission paperwork.

The lawsuit, American Health Care Assn. et al v. Burwell et al, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Oxford Division. The lawsuit, which names the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), labels the arbitration clause ban as capricious and arbitrary. The measure also contests the authority of CMS to act as a regulatory agency calling the shots on how nursing homes handle disputes. Plaintiffs in the litigation are asking the federal court to, at the very least, delay the enactment of the ban (the rest of the rule solidifies as law this month) while the court weighs the challenge by the industry group.  Continue reading →

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The corporate structure of many for-profit nursing homes is specifically designed to make it difficult to impose liability when there is a dispute over the quality of care. Our nursing home abuse lawyers in Florida know it’s not unusual for a single nursing home to be tied to nearly half a dozen different businesses connected by a tangle of contract agreements. It takes a skilled litigator to sort through that kind of mess in order to attain accountability for poor care. 

The recent case of Griffith v. SSC Pueblo Belmont Operating Co. is a prime example of how these corporate structures can complicate court cases.

According to court records, this matter out of Colorado involved a handful of separate corporations with varying levels of involvement in day-to-day operations of the facility. Some of those entities existed out-of-state, and technically did not operate in Colorado or have any of their own business contacts in that state. That made the issue of jurisdiction for Colorado state courts a very tricky matter.  Continue reading →

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The Florida Supreme Court has issued an opinion in a nursing home negligence lawsuit, tossing an arbitration agreement and the reasoning by the 3rd DCA that it was enforceable because the son signed on behalf of his father who lacked mental capacity. The court in Mendez v. Hampton Court Nursing Ctr. said the father’s mental capacity here did not matter because it didn’t change the son’s lack of legal standing to sign on his father’s behalf.

As we’ve seen in so many of these cases, the son signed a nursing home admission agreement – which included an arbitration provision – for his father when he was first admitted to the Miami-area facility back in 2009. But the son didn’t have legal power of attorney. The father likely couldn’t have legally signed that paperwork either because he lacked the mental capacity to do so, but that’s beside the point here. Later when a dispute arose and plaintiff alleged his father’s care had been negligent, the nursing home sought to enforce that arbitration agreement.

It was argued by defendant nursing home that the father’s lack of mental capacity meant the son was acting as his father’s representative. The trial court agreed with the nursing home and so too did the Third District Court of Appeals. But the state supreme court, in a 5-2 decision, reversed. The father’s mental state didn’t change the son’s legal power or somehow make the contract valid. Had the nursing home wanted to ensure the correct party was signing the document, they could have taken the matter to court, asked for the father to be declared mentally incompetent, had the court establish a legal representative and then asked that person to sign. Continue reading →

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Residents at a nursing home in North Dakota have settled with a hospital system following the largest outbreak of hepatitis C in recent U.S. history. However, the ongoing legal battle between the hospital and the nursing home where most of those involved were sickened will press on.

Courthouse News Service reports that the confidential settlement, which is still pending approval from the judge, stems from the outbreak in August 2013 in which 52 people were sickened. Of those, 48 were residents or former residents of a nursing home. It was the biggest outbreak of hepatitis C in more than a dozen years, according to data with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As for what caused it, that’s still in dispute. The 21 victims who were plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege that a hospital employee of an outpatient laboratory service reused needles and failed to follow infection control practices. State and federal authorities never exactly pinpointed the source, but they did say they suspected the nursing home residents were infected in connection with blood services.  Continue reading →

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The management structure of nursing homes has grow increasingly complex in recent years, making it more difficult to identify all responsible parties.

This is no accident. 

In fact, as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in a 2009 analysis, nursing homes use these complex management structures as a way to confuse which entities might actually be responsible for the day-to-day care of patients and the policies set in place that affect everything from staffing to cleaning to nutrition programs to personnel issues. What this does is make it harder for residents who have been abused or neglected – or their surviving loved ones – from seeking recourse from the appropriate parties in civil litigation.

These management structures usually involve separating ownership of the real estate from ownership of the staffing company from ownership of the cleaning crews, etc. All these distinct sub-companies make it difficult to determine who holds the organizational assets and what the organizational approach is and who is actually delivering the services.  Continue reading →

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