Nursing Home Owners Hide Behind New Bill to Avoid Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) June 17, 2014 – The latest legislation in Florida shielding nursing home investors from wrongful death lawsuits as a result of nursing home abuse is scary. It could happen in Texas.
“A bill recently passed in Florida limits the rights of nursing home residents and offers protection to nursing home investors when patients in care are neglected or abused. It’s a disturbing piece of legislation in terms of what it says about the elderly residents in care – that they do not count. The broad terms of the bill may also shift the choice of defendants to individual nursing home personnel instead of the owners,” outlines Brooks Schuelke, a Texas wrongful death lawyer located in Austin.
The Florida Justice Association, AARP of Florida and the association representing trial lawyers lauded Bill SB 670 as a good piece of legislation. Elder care advocates are not happy with it as it makes seniors-in-care moving targets. The nursing home industry was handed a not so subtle all clear signal that they would not be prosecuted in cases of neglect or abuse, which would allow them to protect their financial investments.
Brian Lee, Florida’s director of Families for Better Care, foresees nursing homes taking advantage of the liability shield and that current borderline or negligent senior care would get worse. The Florida Health Care Association disagrees with that point-of-view by stating the legislation is merely designed to protect passive investors. There is no clear definition of a passive investor and naysayers argue the bill’s language makes it arduous to persuade a judge that a link exists between an investor and the nursing facility.
Nursing home residents may feel the Florida Justice Association that fought these changes for the last three sessions of the legislature has left them in a tenuous situation. For the Association’s endorsement, language was included in the bill making it easier for those in care, their attorneys and relatives to obtain documentation without establishing an estate. Of interest is that the nursing home industry spent $2.4 million on political campaigns during 2012. It is reported they have donated a further $903,000 to recent legislative campaigns. On the heels of such munificence come significant changes in favor of the industry.
“This kind of shielding legislation would not be welcome in Texas, but if it works in Florida, lobbyists may consider reaching out to other states to make similar changes. The fact that this kind of bill would have a drastic impact on seniors in care is unconscionable. Are seniors to lose all their rights? Who will represent them if they are neglected and abused? This bill may have some horrific fallout and it is not a move that will improve their lives,” says Schuelke.
Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC
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Austin, TX 78701
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