July 30, 2018
Consider the following real-life scenario:
A son enters into a contract for deed under which he will ultimately take ownership of his father’s land. In furtherance of the contract, the son puts money and labor toward improvements to the property and pays an agreed-upon sum, ultimately receiving title to the land.
Shortly after the deed to the land exchanges hands, the son’s parents are forced to seek nursing home care. Several years later, both parents pass away, leaving a debt of nearly $100,000 allegedly owed to the nursing home.
Under an archaic statute that some commentators say had not been enforced in nearly fifty years, the nursing-home operator sues the son for payment of the parents’ alleged debt. Additionally, the nursing home alleges that the transfer of land from father to son—which was conducted according to contract—was fraudulent.
At trial, the nursing home succeeds in convincing the court that the conveyance of land was indeed fraudulent, and the court holds the son liable for his parents’ unpaid nursing home bills. The landmark case is appealed all the way to the state supreme court, which not only affirms that the son is liable but that his siblings are, as well.
This case, known as Four Seasons Healthcare Services v. Linderkamp, actually took place in North Dakota under that state’s so-called familial support law. Although the statutes in question had not been tested before a court in decades, legal observers are increasingly sounding the alarm that such cases may become increasingly prevalent as the baby-boomer generation continues to age and healthcare costs continue to soar.
In a piece published in the West Fargo Observer on July 28, 2018, University of North Dakota assistant law professor Tammy Oltz issued just such a warning.
Noting that before the 2013 Linderkamp case the filial support statute had not been litigated in North Dakota since 1968, Oltz observed, “I think what's interesting about [Linderkamp] and what it did is that it reaffirmed that these statutes can be enforced.”
Such a precedent may encourage other nursing-home operators to bring similar suits against the children of residents or former residents who cannot pay the massive bills associated with full-time elder care.
Most concerning, other states have similar laws on the books, though some only allow parents to bring suit against their children. In 1995, North Dakota revised its law to allow third parties to bring suit, according to Oltz, who specializes in the study of family law.
Stay tuned to AdamsFietz.com for the latest legal developments involving nursing home care.
Nursing HOme / Elder Abuse Hotline
Wells Fargo Observer
July 30, 2018
Citing inappropriate profit-maximization practices that put nursing-home residents at risk, two northern California law firms have brought class-action lawsuits against Brius Healthcare Services, affiliated company Rockport Administrative Services, and Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz, alleging systemic violations of nursing-home staffing requirements that infringed on the rights of residents, the Eureka Times Standard reported July 28, 2018.
In a statement, attorney Stephen Garcia of Garcia Artigliere & Medby, one of the firms bringing the class-action lawsuits, declared, “To knowingly understaff these facilities in violation of promised resident rights so as to unlawfully maximize profit victimizes our important resource of elders and needs to end.”
Per the Times Standard, the statement continued, “These lawsuits are an effort on behalf of these vulnerable citizens to ensure that their needs are met and services, for which operators are paid incredibly large sums mostly by us through our Government, are actually provided.”
Among other remedies, the lawsuits request that the court impose a decade-long injunction on Brius nursing homes, forcing them to maintain adequate staffing levels and to comply with other requirements relating to operating safe facilities run by knowledgeable, responsive staffers.
As readers of TheLawFirm.com know, the allegations of substandard care delivered by understaffed nursing homes run by profit-driven enterprises are hardly unique to these cases. Rather, they are reflective of an industry-wide phenomenon that will only grow worse as an aging population in the developed world increases demand for nursing homes and other elder-care services.
Lawsuits such as those brought against Brius Healthcare Services and CEO Shlomo Rechnitz are a key component of efforts to curtail these dangerous trends, as they seek not only to hold to account the individuals and companies involved in those specific cases, but they also serve to expose to policymakers and the public the epidemic of unscrupulous practices overtaking this vital industry.
Increasingly, the nursing-home industry is facing consolidation under large, profit-driven enterprises whose main objective is to get a piece of the billions of dollars that government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid spend each year on reimbursements for nursing-home care.
Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has put in place measures reversing transparency rules previously in place, making it more difficult for the public and would-be litigants to obtain clear, objective information about the track record of various operators.
If you or a loved one ever suffers harm at the hands of a nursing-home operator offering substandard care, contact the experienced team of attorneys at AdamsFietz.com right away for a free legal consultation with an actual attorney!
Nursing HOme / Elder Abuse Hotline
Eureka Times Standard
July 30, 2018
In response to class-action lawsuits brought against 15 California nursing homes, the defendant facility operators are pushing back hard against allegations of understaffing, as well as engaging in an effort to disparage the reputation of one of the main attorneys behind the lawsuits. However, at least some of the claims against California’s largest nursing home operators—as well as the broader industry trends on which the lawsuits are based—appear to have been substantiated by the findings of a state audit released May 1, 2018.
“The elderly and infirm are among the most important yet most vulnerable segments of our population,” argued Stephen Garcia, one of the attorneys representing nursing home patients in the class-action suits, according to a piece that appeared in the Marin Independent Journal on July 29. “To knowingly understaff these facilities in violation of promised resident rights so as to unlawfully maximize profit, victimizes our important resource of our elders and needs to end.”
However, Jill Basinger, a spokesperson for Shlomo Rechnitz, CEO of nursing home operator Brius and the individual behind a web of affiliated entities named in the lawsuits, took direct aim at the plaintiffs’ attorney in response.
“There is nothing new here,” Basinger said, according to the Marin Independent Journal. “All these lawsuits are completely duplicative of a 4-year-old class action which Mr. Garcia is desperately concerned he will lose…It is evident that Mr. Garcia is using the court system to harass, vex and annoy Mr. Rechnitz.”
The claims that “there is nothing new here” and that Garcia is merely acting on a personal vendetta against Rechnitz contradict the findings of the recent state audit, which was conducted by the California State Auditor at the request of elected representatives who had expressed concern that Rechnitz-controlled companies, among others, were artificially inflating prices in order to receive larger-than-appropriate compensation from Medi-Cal, the state program that reimburses healthcare suppliers for certain expenses.
Among other findings, the state audit reported an enormous recent surge in profitability among the state’s three largest nursing home operators, including companies controlled by Rechnitz. Along with Rechnitz’s Brius, the state auditor also examined nursing home operators Longwood Management Corp. and Plum Healthcare Group.
“All three companies made less than $10 million in net income in 2006,” the auditor’s report stated, according to the Marin Independent Journal. “But by 2015 their net incomes had increased to between $35.2 million and $53.8 million.”
Put differently, in less than a decade, these companies somehow managed to increase net income by between 300% and 500%.
In a phenomenon running rampant throughout the United States nursing home industry, these large operators exist within a network of affiliated companies to which they outsource much of their services. According to critics—including plaintiffs attorneys suing the companies in question—this creates the potential for corruption, as related companies controlled by the same few individuals overcharge for services in order to maximize profits.
With federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and similar state programs paying out billions of dollars annually in reimbursements for nursing home services, the victims of such schemes are not limited to the nursing homes’ residents and their families but also include taxpayers generally.
Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest legal developments relating to unscrupulous nursing home operators. And if you or a loved one ever is injured by an understaffed nursing home providing substandard care, contact the experienced team of attorneys at AdamFietz.com right away for a free legal consultation with an actual attorney!
Nursing HOme / Elder Abuse Hotline
Marin Independent Journal
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