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Do Nursing Home Owners’ Assets Need To Be Protected From Lawsuits?

Owners of Nursing Homes Could Have Their Assets on the LineThe story involving Jim Wilkes and the Florida nursing home industry would almost appear funny if it were not so morbid – this Tampa trial lawyer successfully sues nursing homes for abuse and neglect of its residents and wins millions of dollars in damages for his clients. Clearly, juries throughout the state were ruling that these nursing homes were not providing the adequate levels of care necessary. Instead of making changes, ensuring that their patients are safe, the industry decides to invest its money in trying to get the Florida Legislature to change the law.

What this is about

Why are nursing homes afraid of this type of approach and want to change the law? The concept is straightforward – instead of just targeting the management companies and the owners of a nursing home, you also target the contractors, vendors, and investors if you can provide evidence that they somehow influenced the company’s decision-making. In addition to that, seek larger punitive damages.

When a company did not put up any defense in 2012, a Poly County nursing home was forced to shut down alongside its management company. The awarded settlement was a $1 billion judgment.

Arguments for the bill

According to the representative for the Florida Health Care Association, this type of bill is necessary to ensure that Florida remains an interesting place to invest. They are actually suggesting that having these types of investment companies, who do nothing but look at the bottom line and try cut corners everywhere, are actually good for the state.

However, it is evident that the nursing home industry is determined to make this bill go through. They have been seeking a version of this bill for years now. Throughout the political campaigns in 2012, they spent $2.4 million on contributions. So far during this cycle, the same industry has spent another $903,000 on legislative campaigns.

Why this is more important than ever

There is no denying that tort reform can sometimes go overboard. We should not make people afraid of doing their job if they do it well or make a simple mistake. However, the truth is that many of these companies see nursing homes as nothing more than an investment opportunity. This often means that they will try to offer the least amount of care possible to ensure the maximum profits.

Those companies will only respond to one thing – punitive damages. Even though it is idealistic to assume that people will invest in a nursing home because they want to ‘better the world’, it is still vitally important that companies provide adequate, humane service.

This type of lawsuit highlights the attitude of these investment companies and directly shows us what is wrong with these people having a say in the day-to-day care of elderly residents. Here is a recommendation for these investment companies: use the money you are now spending on lawyers and invest it in providing adequate care for your residents. Not only would it be beneficial for your long-term bottom line, but it would also prevent you from spending time in court.

Learn more about the laws applicable to Florida nursing homes here.
Click on the links for information on nursing homes in Miami, Orlando and Tampa

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