The Florida Senate has passed a measure that would impact the amount of damages residents of a nursing home or their families may receive. The bill (SB 670) has provisions that would prohibit plaintiffs from seeking damages from nursing home investors, unless it can be shown that those investors, in some way, were responsible for the nursing home neglect or abuse.
The bill has been described as a compromise by some legislative insiders. While the measure seeks to limit those who can be named as defendants in nursing home litigation, it also lowers the cost to access medical records, which could help plaintiffs’ attorneys and actually lead to an increase in nursing home lawsuits.
The measure also contains provisions that would force nursing homes to pay judgments that have been levied against them. Nursing home payouts in Florida are often delayed for long periods of time or not paid at all.
Those who oppose the bill contend that excluding any party in nursing home litigation is not a good idea. Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) told the Miami Herald, “We want to know that if there are injuries, [the plaintiffs] have open access to court without delay and that the persons who are ultimately responsible are not shielded as a party that can be sued.”
Others have argued that corporations are making money on nursing homes, often at the expense of care. They cite that nursing home staff is often cut to maximize profits and that the cut in personnel increases the likelihood that patients will be injured or suffer from neglect in nursing homes. AARP threw in its support for the measure when provisions were introduced that would allow nursing home residents to sue corporations that have made corporate decisions that directly contribute to an injury.
Those who defend the legislation contend that passive investors who are not connected with day-to-day decisions at nursing homes should not be held liable for injuries or neglect that may occur at nursing homes they invest in.
The elder abuse attorneys at Farah & Farah in Gainesville will be keeping an active eye on this legislation as it develops. If a loved one has been the victim of an injury due to nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact us at (800) 533-3555 to explore your legal options.