Friday, April 27, 2012

Victim critical in nursing home assault

A 42-year-old man has been charged with aggravated malicious wounding after police say he attacked an elderly resident at a nursing home Thursday evening.
Debbie George with the City of Suffolk said William K. Ruffin, a resident at Oakwood Assisted Living Facility on East Washington Street, attacked a 92-year-old woman sometime before 6:30 p.m. She sustained severe facial injuries and was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital by Nightingale.
 Friday morning, George said the victim was in critical condition at the hospital.
 Police arrested Ruffin and have charged him with aggravated malicious wounding of a nursing home resident. He is being held at Western Tidewater Regional Jail without bond at this time.
Victim critical in nursing home assault | | Suffolk

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wrongful death claim cannot be arbitrated

I waas quoted in this weeks Lawyers Weekly article on Arbitrations in the nursing home context. In an article by Eric T. Berkman, an attorney and freelance writer for Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Published Wed, April 25, 2012

A mandatory arbitration agreement that a man signed on his mother’s behalf when she was admitted to a nursing home did not bar his wrongful death suit against the facility, a Superior Court judge has ruled. Judge Troy's ruling essentially voided an arbitration agreement that had been signed by a health care proxy. The judge found that a health care proxy exceeded his permissable authority by signing away the residents right to a jury trial.
The defendant nursing home had argued that the plaintiff was authorized to sign the arbitration agreement under a health care proxy executed by his mother before she was transferred to the facility and thus the agreement was enforceable.

“Under [Chapter 201D, the Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Act], an agent has authority to make ‘any and all health care decisions on the principal’s behalf that the principal could make,’” Troy said in denying the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration. “However, in the view of this court, a waiver of the principal’s legal right to seek redress in court for improper medical treatment does not fall within the statutory definition of a health care decision.”

The 17-page decision is Licata v. GGNSC Malden Dexter LLC, Lawyers Weekly No. 12-066-12. The full text of the ruling can be ordered by clicking here.

Bernard Hamill, an attorney in Quincy who represents plaintiffs in nursing home negligence and abuse cases, welcomed Troy’s ruling.
“Think of it in terms of common sense,” said Hamill, who was not involved in the case. “A health care proxy could never bring a lawsuit [on behalf of a nursing home resident], so why on earth would one be deemed valid enough to waive the ability to bring a lawsuit? That would make no sense.”
Hamill was also gratified that the judge seemed to recognize the reality facing people in the plaintiff’s situation.
“You have a nervous family member sitting down in an admissions office with a huge stack of documents, trying to get their loved one admitted for their own safety. And frequently it’s the only nursing home to accept the candidate,” he said. “Someone in that situation is not going to be reading every document, questioning them and refusing to sign things.”
If nursing homes do not want arbitration agreements challenged, they should not make them part of the admissions process, Hamill added.
“Why not make it truly separate and send it out several days later when the [person acting on the patient’s behalf] isn’t in an emotional state, trying to get their loved one admitted?” he said.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

South Florida Abuse

Southwest Florida can be a retiree’s paradise — but that also makes it an ideal place to prey on the elderly.
At a public forum Tuesday, the Lee Elder Abuse Prevention Partnership shared stories of elder abuse and discussed ways to prevent it.
“Our own parents and grandparents are being taken advantage of,” said co-chairwoman Dotty St. Amand. Part of the problem is Florida does not require private home caregivers to be licensed, according to John Morano, CEO of JT Private Duty Home Care. The state oversees companies such as Morano’s, which require their employees go through background checks. Independent caregivers can be licensed as Certified Nursing Assistants by the Florida Department of Health. But it’s not required.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Verdict against Rosewood Care Center upheld

The Fifth District Appellate Court has upheld a Madison County plaintiff's verdict in a case that was tried twice against Rosewood Care Center nursing home of Edwardsville.
Jurors awarded $149,115.13 to Paul Graves, administrator of his father's estate in April 2009. Paul Graves contended that Rosewood was negligent in caring for his father, Alfred Graves, during a January 2003 stay at the facility. On the first day of his stay, Alfred Graves fell and broke his hip. Paul Graves claimed that the nursing home violated its own procedures and did not give his father adequate care.
On appeal, Rosewood raised five issues: (1) whether the verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence, (2) whether the court erred in its issuance of an instruction on the definition of neglect, (3) whether the trial court erred in its issuance of instructions on regulations promulgated pursuant to the Act, (4) whether the trial court abused its discretion by giving an instruction based on IPI 5.01 (Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, Civil, No. 5.01 (2000)), and (5) whether the trial court erred by admitting into evidence a bill from another nursing home.
Verdict against Rosewood Care Center upheld at Fifth District | Madison/St. Clair Record