We have written time again about the traditional civil and criminal cases that can be brought against nursing homes and/or their administrators, managers, nurses, nursing aides and any other staff. Civil claims can be brought for negligence of or abuse against residents and the consequent damages, which can include mental anguish, physical injury, and sometimes even death. There can also be financial exploitation whereby a staffer steals money or jewelry from residents. In so many instances staffers take advantage of the diminished mental states of patients.
In addition to civil claims for damages, staffers can be charged in certain instances. Nursing homes can also be subject to civil penalties under the False Claims Act where they abuse access to federal funds by overcharging or falsely charging for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Recently, however, a nursing home sits at the center of a federal bankruptcy trial which we have previously written about. There has been more testimony of late making the media wires.
The Bruce Rauner Situation
Down in Tampa, Florida, the federal bankruptcy trial focuses on claims amounting to multiple fraudulent transactions in the sale of a healthcare company. The former owners of a company called Trans Healthcare have been accused of making numerous complex deals that involve a whole mix of different companies bearing similar names to Trans Healthcare, all of which have market shares in the nursing home industry. The main company, which owns a number of nursing homes and is itself owned by an investment firm called GTCR, was sold to a person described as an “elderly graphic artist.”
The former owners were accused of concocting the shifty dealings to sell their chain of nursing homes under Trans Healthcare, Inc. which faced lawsuits from the estate and families of previous residents for wrongful deaths that were the result of abuse or neglect. These homes owe more than $1 billion in wrongful death judgments, and while some are on appeal or pending confirmation, Trans Healthcare, Inc. has been accused of trying to jettison them in the hopes of avoiding paying those judgments as it proceeds through bankruptcy.
Such alleged dealings could be referred to as fraudulent conveyances. Much of the dispute centers on the involvement of one particular individual, Bruce Rauner, who was a member of the GTCR investment firm as well as a Board member of Trans Healthcare, which GTCR owned. Mr. Rauner is also an Illinois gubernatorial candidate. Yet this particular individual has balked at accusations that he had a primary role in any of the dealings that resulted in an elderly man becoming the lone owner of the company. This elderly man was described by an insider, according to reports, as “a guy . . . with a fax machine.” On top of this, another firm involved with GTCR on nursing home investments remained in possession of only those facilities that were still financially viable, as well as not taking on any liabilities of the old Trans Healthcare, while employing everyone from Trans Healthcare after the sale. Much of this has all come out of recent testimony, largely provided by attorneys who had put together those transactions.
The GTCR investment firm has vigorously denied and defended these claims. As they stand and if found to be legitimate (as the claims are still only alleged), it would be an example of how investors in nursing homes have sought to avoid any liability that comes along with owning those nursing homes. As we all know, nursing homes are a source of abuse and neglect in so many parts of the country, and those at the facilities as well as any corporate owners must all be responsible for liabilities to those they have hurt.
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