The nursing home industry (and nursing home lawyers) was stunned earlier this year when a Humboldt County jury returned a class action verdict against the nursing home chain of $677 million dollars. The plaintiffs alleged, and the jury believed, that Skilled Healthcare, the owner of many nursing homes in several states, routinely understaffed its California nursing facilities, compromising patient care in an effort to maximize profits.
The case was a battle. ”Everything was fought tooth and nail,” Timothy Needham, lead trial lawyer for the team of plaintiff lawyers told the Times-Standard. The trial lasted six months. But the verdict was so big it created practical problems for the victors, and potentially fatal concerns for Skilled Healthcare, a publically traded company. Because of the size of the verdict, Skilled Healthcare could not afford to pay such a huge judgment and could not appeal the result (appeals require the posting of a bond, which is a percentage of the verdict), and the plaintiffs really didn’t want to take over the company. So, smartly, everyone agreed on a settlement.
It was announced yesterday that the verdict of $677 million was settled for $62.8 million.
As part of the case, the court granted an injunction, which will require that the nursing facilities maintain at least 3.2 hours of nursing care per patient, per day, as required by law, and requires that a third party be hired to monitor all of the nursing homes implicated in the lawsuit. The injunction will last two years.
For advocates on behalf of nursing home victims this was great news.
”From an advocate’s standpoint, it’s great. I would hope this makes a real difference in these patients’ lives, and becomes a standard in the future,” said Pat McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, adding that the agreement was the most substantial injunction the state has ever seen. “It’s just so unusual. They’ve never had anything like this.”
The nursing home elder abuse and neglect lawyers at Walton Law Firm provide free consultations to individuals and families throughout Southern California who believe a loved one has been abused or neglected in the nursing home, assisted living, board and care, or home health care setting. Call (760) 571-5500 or (866) 607-1325 for a free and confidential case evaluation.