One of the most high-profile (and high cost) nursing home lawsuits of all-time involved the class action lawsuit against Skilled Healthcare Group. The legal matter stemmed from the nursing home chain’s failure to properly staff its facilities as required by law. The state required that nursing homes maintain 3.2 hours of nursing care per patient, per day. The group was falling far below that amount.
Following the trial in that case, a jury awarded the victims a staggering $670 million for the losses they suffered as a result of the nursing homes’ failure to comply with the staffing law. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, before an appeal on that jury verdict could be heard, the plaintiffs and the company agreed to a $50 million settlement instead. If approved by the court, the money would be set aside in an escrow account to be paid to the victims.
Reaching a settlement like this is common following a staggering jury verdict. In practical terms, the company would likely have been unable to use its credit, insurance, and cash reserves to pay anything close to the $670 million award. In contrast, the settlement, though a much lower amount, allows victims more assurance that they will actually receive the award and will get it in a much timelier manner.
In addition, the settlement also requires Skilled HealthCare facilities to have an outside group monitor its nursing staff levels to ensure that the law is complied with in the future.
Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti have watched with interest as the legal issues unfolded in the California case. Illinois has a similar required minimum amount of nursing hours per day per patient at all nursing homes. Our attorneys remain vigilant watchdogs of these facilities to ensure that all applicable nursing home laws are followed. Failure to abide by the legislative requirements is both legally wrong and also dangerous for residents who often suffer injury and death due to the negligence caused by the lawbreaking.