West Palm Beach nursing home abuse was the prime target for Brian Lee, who served as the ombudsman for the state’s Department of Elder Affairs.
Our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys have known about Lee and his advocacy for some time.
Now, he has been granted permission to move forward with a whistleblower lawsuit alleging he was fired from his post for researching who owned some of the state’s worst nursing homes.
According to reports from the Orlando Sentinel and WJHG7 News, Lee contends he was forced out for his outspoken advocacy for senior nursing home residents and demands for reform within the nursing home industry.
The Department of Elder Affairs reportedly gave Lee the option to resign or be fired, after Gov. Rick Scott took office and personally sent a letter to top officials at the agency, saying it was time for Lee “to go.”
This letter came soon after Lee had requested all nursing homes and long-term care providers submit forms showing management information and ownership. This is authorized under Obama’s new health care law – which Scott and other Republicans are vehemently against.
When Lee was replaced, that person rescinded the request for information.
Lee subsequently filed his whistleblower lawsuit. The state tried to argue that a judge should throw it out. The judge refused. So the case will proceed.
In addition to the whistleblower claim, Lee is also alleging that his agency, as well as the Florida Health Care Association and the Florida Assisted Living Association interfered illegally in his business relationships and official duties. He also contends that the Florida Assisted Living Association – which advocates on behalf of nursing homes – committed defamation by spreading information about him that was false.
The former ombudsman is seeking a sum of more than $15,000 in damages, although he is not looking for reinstatement.
Lee hopes that with his suit, there will be exposure of the greed of nursing home owners, as well as the abuse and negligence that he says has become rampant in these facilities across the state.
He is now continuing his advocacy work with a non-profit called Families for Better Care, of which he is the executive director. It’s a nationwide group, but Lee’s primary focus remains Florida.
Our West Palm Beach nursing home abuse lawyers have no doubt that someone who held the position Lee did has a unique perspective and inside knowledge as to the workings of long-term care facilities and nursing homes. The fact that he believes these type of negligence and abuse are rampant – from the top down – is certainly revealing – and should tell you that you and your loved one aren’t alone in what you’re going through.
What is unfortunate, however, is that the issue of elder care and abuse in long-term care facilities has become a political match of wills – and it shouldn’t be. This is an issue upon which we should all be able to come to a reasonable consensus: abuse in West Palm Beach nursing homes is unacceptable in any form, and our vulnerable seniors deserve our protection.
If you or a loved one have suffered from nursing home abuse in West Palm Beach or the surrounding areas, contact the Law Offices of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez for legal assistance. 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Florida nursing home watchdog battles on against state, By Kate Santich, Orlando Sentinel
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