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Former New Mexico Ombudsman Successfully Sues Department of Aging and Long Term Services for Unlawful Termination

A woman who served more than 10 years as a New Mexico long term care ombudsman and claimed she was fired in 2016 for lawfully giving records under a Freedom of Information Act request has received an undisclosed settlement against the Department of Aging and Long Term Services. The woman, Sondra Everhart, handed over boarding home records to the Albuquerque Journal only to have the information turn up in a scathing newspaper article of the facilities. Boarding homes are used in New Mexico as living centers for mentally ill patients who have recently been released from state-run psychiatric facilities.

In the lawsuit, Everhart alleged that she was the target of extensive efforts by her employer, the Department of Aging and Long Term Services, to get rid of her. Providing records in response to a public information request was not against policy, but the state used it as an excuse to finally get rid of her. Everhart had spent her career as a long term care advocate, arguing that boarding house residents deserved better care and conditions, that the elderly be given more assistance in preventing financial scams from happening to them, and was vocal about exposing Medicaid fraud within her department.

Prior to her termination, Everhart filed a complaint with the federal government, alleging that the department was purposely making her job difficult, which is illegal. After her complaint, the department sought legal counsel on their ability to fire Everhart. Despite being advised that her firing would be seen as retaliation, the department moved ahead and fired her under the premise of violating policy by sharing records.

Ombudsmen Are Our Allies in The Fight Against Elder Injustice
Ombudsmen are an invaluable asset to nursing home residents and their loved ones. The job of an ombudsmen is to assist families in finding out what resources and rights are available to them as nursing home residents, advocate for their rights, and also serve as a lifeline when loved ones aren’t sure where to turn when they suspect nursing home abuse or neglect.

How can Illinois Injury Lawyers help?
While Ombudsmen can play a significant role in advocating for those who are in nursing homes, some cases require the attention of an experienced attorney. The nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have represented residents in cases against nursing homes throughout Illinois. If you believe that a loved one was harmed or injured in a nursing home because of abuse or neglect, we can help you seek justice and fair compensation. Please feel free to call us at 312-332-2872 or 877-374-1417 or complete our Contact Us form and a Chicago injury attorney will call you back to discuss your claim in a free and confidential consultation.