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Indiana Law Protecting Deadly Nursing Homes Challenged
ROCHESTER, IN– The family of a patient of Life Care Center of Rochester who died after suffering a serious head injury has filed a nursing home neglect and wrongful death claim that challenges the validity of the Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Act, under which “a proven negligent wrongdoer has more legal protection if he kills his victim, than he does if he avoids killing them,” according to the complaint filed in Howard county.
The lawsuit, which names multiple corporations and individuals alleged to have been responsible for the care at the nursing home facility, alleges that the nursing home patient was allowed to suffer multiple falls after becoming a patient of the dementia unit, ultimately suffering an injury to the head including massive subdural bleeding and brain swelling. According to the complaint, the patient was admitted to the hospital after the second fall, where she died two days later.
The complaint alleges that those responsible for the care at Life Care Center of Rochester “knowingly understaffed the facility and placed its patient population in serious and clearly foreseeable danger of harm and injury.”
The complaint states that an Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) investigation of the Life Care Center of Rochester facility around the time period of the patient’s admission revealed serious care failures that were “strongly indicative of serious systemic failures in the hiring, staffing, training, oversight, and management” of the facility.
According to the complaint, “a staff member confessed to ISDH investigators that the facility had only one staff member working on the secured dementia unit where 13 patients were housed” during the time period at issue. The complaint further states that the facility’s director of nursing told an ISDH investigator that “no one” was supervising the dementia patients who needed assistance when the single staff-member was assisting a patient to the restroom.
“We cannot allow huge for-profit nursing home chains being paid billions of dollars to so egregiously skimp on nursing staff to boost their bottom line, with a callous disregard for the patients they harm and kill as a result,” said Jeff Powless, one of the attorneys who represents the family of the victim.
Life Care Centers of America, Inc. is a Cleveland, Tennessee based for-profit corporation which manages or owns more than 220 skilled nursing homes across the U.S., according to the complaint. (www.lcca.com)
The complaint states that the named defendants “have engaged in a history and pattern of practice of wrongfully choosing to place corporate profits over the needs of their patients.” In support of that allegation, the complaint states that Life Care Centers of America, Inc. was the subject of a Federal False Claims Act lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department that was settled for $147 Million in 2016. That lawsuit involved allegations that the nursing home corporation knowingly caused its facilities to submit false claims related to the care of its patients to Medicare and TRICARE, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, the family of the victim plans to challenge the constitutionality of Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute, “which unfairly caps verdicts/judgments by lawful juries and judges — to the sole benefit and protection of proven and adjudicated wrongdoers, and to the sole detriment and harm of the innocent victims.”
Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death statute states that the total damages that may be recovered against a negligent defendant proven to have killed the victim is $300,000 for loss of the “love and companionship” of the deceased individual. (I.C. 34-23-1-2(e)) Indiana law does not allow any recovery for the pain and suffering of a victim killed by a defendant’s negligence. (I.C.34-9-3-4)
The complaint alleges allege that, “because the Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Act applies only instances where a negligent party kills the victim (as opposed to injuring them), such Act serves to protect and reward (if not incentivize) wrong-doers for killing the victims through their negligence (rather than mitigate the harm) which is unconscionable and in violation of public policy and rights set forth in the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions.”
According to the complaint, the the named defendants have refused to accept responsibility for the harm to the victim.
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