Sample Verdicts & Lawsuits Against Evangelical Lutheran Nursing Home

While many of the problems that plague nursing home care in this country result from the profit motive of the homes owners, issues are not necessarily limited to for-profit nursing homes. When it comes to Medicare nursing home quality ratings, there are many non-profit nursing homes that can be found among the ranks of the one-star nursing homes. As such, even though the overall quality of non-profit care is slightly higher, there are lawsuits against non-profit nursing homes as well.

It is possible to file a lawsuit against a nursing home just the same as it is against a for-profit nursing home. Non-profit homes must follow the same set of laws and regulations as any other nursing home. Some states do limit damage awards against non-profits who are “organized exclusively for religious, charitable or educational purposes.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society is the nation’s largest nonprofit nursing home chain. As of 2015, Evangelical Lutheran runs approximately 200 nursing homes that are spread out over 24 states. There are over They have been in existence for nearly 100 years, having been founded in 1923. Evangelical Lutheran is a separate non-profit from Lutheran Hospitals and Homes. The two bodies were split from each other in 1940.

As of 2015, Evangelical Lutheran had over 11,000 residents in its facilities. Since the motive of the Society is not profit, Evangelical Lutheran’s nursing homes tend to be smaller than many of the for-profit chains. Still, this does not translate into impeccable quality of care in Evangelical Lutheran’s facilities. The system still has many of the same issues as the larger nursing homes, including abuse, falls and pressure ulcers. While non-profits do not have to answer to shareholders, they will often have their own financial motivations for their actions. As a result, there have been a number of lawsuits against Evangelical Lutheran.

Evangelical Lutheran underwent large-scale changes in 2018. After nearly 100 years of independent existence, Evangelical Lutheran merged with Sanford Health, another non-profit company. Sanford Health is a hospital care provider and will be responsible for running the Evangelical Lutheran homes. This is part of a larger trend of consolidations in the nursing home industry as a reliance on government payers and struggles to find employees mean that there is safety in numbers. However, the larger nursing home chains grow, the more likely they are to encounter staffing and service problems. There are news reports that the merged chain is looking to grow even further by making more acquisitions.

When it comes to lawsuits that have been filed against Evangelical Lutheran, the nursing home has been very aggressive in trying to limit residents’ rights to bring suit. The nursing home requires families to sign an agreement to arbitrate any claims against the nursing home at the time of admission. These arbitration agreements are given a fair amount of weight and deference when they end up being litigated in court. As a result, Evangelical Lutheran has been successful in having a number of lawsuits thrown out and returned to arbitration.

There have been some cases that have made it to court. As noted below, there was well-publicized abuse that resulted in lawsuits in Minnesota and South Dakota. In addition, there was recently a large verdict in a lawsuit against Evangelical Lutheran.

The Lawsuits against Evangelical Lutheran have been in the following areas:

  • Lawsuits against Evangelical Lutheran for Abuse
  • Lawsuits against Evangelical Lutheran for Falls
  • Lawsuits Against Evangelical Lutheran for Negligence
Lawsuit Against Evangelical Lutheran for Abuse

2010 - Lawsuits Filed in South Dakota and Minnesota – There were four teenaged CNAs in the Albert Lea Nursing Home in Minnesota. These CNAs abused the residents of the home in every manner possible. The abuse included physical abuse and emotional abuse. The CNAs were seen entering residents’ rooms and shutting the door, which was followed by the residents’ screams. The nursing home claimed that it did not know of the abuse and took immediate action to fire the CNAs once it learned of the abuse. The state report said that 15 different residents suffered abuse at the facility. The CNAs actions resulted in criminal charges against two of them along with juvenile charges against the other two. The criminal complaint stated that the CNAs “spat in residents' mouths, poked and groped their breasts and genitals and at times taunted them until they screamed.” Some of the lawsuits were dismissed in Minnesota because in that state, when the resident dies, their legal rights are extinguished. However, other suits were filed in South Dakota since that is where Evangelical Lutheran is headquartered.

Lawsuit Against Evangelical Lutheran for Falls

2018 – Jury Verdict ($500,000) in Iowa – Nursing home staff was moving a resident using a Hoyer lift. This device is a sling-like lift that is placed under the patient and lifts them up. However, when the resident was being transported, they fell from the Hoyer lift breaking bones and hitting their head. The resident eventually died from her injuries. The nursing home attempted to argue that it was not negligent. Rather, according to the nursing home, the resident caused her own fall. The jury’s verdict followed unsuccessful attempts on the part of Evangelical Lutheran to have the case moved or dismissed due to residency requirements and the arbitration agreement.

Lawsuit Against Evangelical Lutheran for Negligence

2016 – Lawsuit Filed in New Mexico – A resident’s tracheostomy tube was dislodged. At the time, the resident was able to breathe and did not appear to be in distress. Nursing home staff could not reinsert the tube so they arranged for the resident to be transported to the hospital. When the nursing home staff called the emergency dispatcher, they noted that the call was not urgent. While the resident was waiting, the resident began to struggle with anxiety. One minute after the EMTs arrived, the resident’s lips turned blue and she collapsed. The complaint stated that the nursing home employees waited over 20 minutes to upgrade the status of the call to the EMTs to urgent.

Evangelical Lutheran’s Aggressive use of Binding Arbitration Clauses

Evangelical Lutheran makes great efforts to aggressively defend itself, notwithstanding any norms of fairness. The chain will use every trick at their disposal to get the lawsuit thrown out or dismissed and moved to a forum that they deem to be more friendly. The nursing home’s bottom line depends on being able to avoid liability in claims such as these. They will try everything possible to discourage you from exercising your legal rights. As a result, you need high-powered representation of your own to counter all of their legal maneuvering.

Was Your Loved One Mistreated at an Evangelical Lutheran Nursing Home? Get Legal Help Now

If you are dealing with a chain like Evangelical Lutheran, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel. The attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center have dealt with many of these situations over the years and will fight as aggressively for your rights as the nursing home’s attorneys are fighting to protect theirs. You do not need to feel powerless or that there is nothing that you can do if a large corporation is trying to silence you. Our main interest is helping our clients get the justice they deserve. Call us today at (800) 726-9565 so we can discuss the facts of your potential claim and let you know how we can help you and your family.

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
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After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric