As any of our regular readers know, my law firm spends a great deal of time representing residents and their families in claims of negligence and abuse against long term care facilities. One particular defendant we see all the time is Medical Facilities of America (MFA), whose home office is located in Roanoke, Virginia.
You may not recognize the name “MFA” because the company operates under many names including: Salem Health and Rehabilitation Center, Pulaski Health and Rehabilitation Center, Camelot of Lynchburg, Piney Forest Healthcare Center(Danville), The Berkshire Healthcare Center (Roanoke), Riverside Healthcare Center(Danville), Gretna Healthcare Center, Franklin Healthcare Center (Rocky Mount), Raleigh Court Healthcare Center (Roanoke), Camelot Health and Rehabilitation Center(Harrisonburg), and on and on and on…..
The reason for this post is to share with our readers the fact that one of MFA’s favorite defense tactics has been taken away from them by a recent decision from by the Circuit Court of the City of Virginia Beach. The case, Curtis Williams, deceased v. Medical Facilities of America, holds that a resident’s family may file a claim against a nursing home and allege that the defendant’s negligence resulted either in the resident’s death or injured the resident – allowing the jury to decide which harm/injury resulted.
Why is this such a big deal? In many cases a nursing home resident has multiple medical problems…or they would not need placement in a nursing home. Often, it is not always clear whether the resident died as a direct result of poor medical care or whether the resident suffered (mightily) as a result of poor medical care but died as a result of some pre-existing and underlying medical problem (i.e. heart attack). MFA, and other nursing homes, in defending cases in which the resident died attempted to force the family to chose between either a “wrongful death” claim or a “survival claim”(resident suffered due to poor care but died from another cause). Nursing homes were hoping that the plaintiff would chose the wrong type of case. The result…a deserving family who proved that poor care was provided to their loved one…gets no recovery!
We have always taken the position that it is for the jury to decide whether the resident died from the poor care or was just severely injured from the poor care. It appears that courts are starting to see the issue our way!