Money makes the world go round. In the nursing home world-as in all other large businesses-the drive for profits seems to dominate all decisions, including those that will affect the care provided to nursing home residents. Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers recently came across an article discussing th conduct of one large national long-term care facility chain that highlights this issue.
Take Part recently published an update on a recent high-profile class-action nursing home neglect lawsuit. Much news was made in recent years when nearly 42,000 residents joined in a class-action lawsuit against a large nursing home company-Skilled Healthcare. The suit alleged that the conglomerate which owned and operated many nursing homes provided negligent care to those in the facilities. A jury in the case eventually ruled against the company. They returned a verdict for the staggering sum of $677 million as a result of the near countless residents harmed by the company’s misconduct which led to nursing home neglect.
A large part of the problem was that the facilities in question were not abiding by state laws which mandate a minimum of daily personal care hours per resident. In particular, California law where the suit was filed mandates that each resident receive 3.2 hours of personal care daily. Yet, countless residents explained that the facility did not come close to providing that much care.
Following the $677 million verdict, the company worked feverishly behind the scenes to try to get the award lowered. Eventually the company and the plaintiff agreed to lower the amount to $50 million, so long as the facility also agreed to submit to frequent inspections by a “special auditor.” The hope was that the regular inspections would act as a measure to ensure that similar misconduct never again occurred.
What did the nursing home company do in response?
Instead of improving their standards and submitting to the inspections, they have worked to skirt the entire purpose of the settlement. According to a report in the North Coast Journal, the company decided to essentially outsource their management to a subcontractor. In that way, the company could still make money on the beds (they “rented” them to the subcontractor), but the maneuver allowed them to avoid being subjected to the new inspections.
In many ways these evasive actions are similar to those by many companies that seek to avoid accountability in legal cases with complex corporate structures. It often takes considerable effort to even figure out who owns what companies and who is making money for various facilities. This is all done so that those hurt by the company’s conduct struggle to figure out who is legally obligated to provide redress.
Unfortunately, each Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm appreciates that these sorts of money-driven maneuvers occur far too often across the country. The care of senior residents in need is rarely the #1 priority at these for-profit long-term care facilities. That is a shame.
An executive director for one elder care organization involved in the effort with this case summarized pithily that: “Let’s face it, nursing homes are all about money. You can’t touch their hearts on this stuff. You have to touch their wallets.”
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