Last year, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided a case very interesting to us as Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyers. In John J. Kane Regional Centers – Glen Hazel v. Grammer (PDF), the issue was whether patients’ families may claim in lawsuits that poor care amounts to a civil rights violation. The Third Circuit decided in July that they could, setting off a controversy in the world of nursing homes and nursing home negligence law. McKnight’s Long-Term Care News reported Feb. 24 that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up the case, allowing the Third Circuit’s decision to stand.
In the original case, Sarah Grammer sued a Pittsburgh-area nursing home, John J. Kane Regional Centers, over the death in its care of her mother, Melvinteen Daniels. She alleged that Daniels was so badly neglected that she developed severe bedsores and malnutrition, leading to sepsis and death. This would form the basis of any Pennsylvania nursing home negligence claim, but Grammer took a different approach. The Federal Nursing Home Reform Amendments guarantee certain rights for nursing home patients, such as the right to be well cared for and free of abuse. Grammer argued that this allowed her to sue under the section of civil law governing civil rights violations. The home countered that the FNHRA do not create rights, but set forth requirements for receiving Medicare funds. The appeals court sided with Grammer.
This case is important for our work as Pennsylvania nursing home neglect attorneys because it opens another avenue to seek redress when a patient has been abused, neglected or otherwise subjected to mistreatment. Most nursing home negligence claims are state court claims, but under this decision, patients may file lawsuits as well. This gives them yet another layer of protection — and it gives nursing homes yet another incentive to measure up to the reasonable standards laid out by federal law.
If you believe or know your loved one was abused or neglected in a nursing home, Rosenbaum & Associates can help. To speak to us about your case and your legal options, please call us toll-free at 1-800-7-LEGAL-7 or contact us through our website.