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john65pennington's avatar

Do I stand a chance to win this lawsuit?

Asked by john65pennington (29075 points ) February 15th, 2011

My mother has been horribly neglected in a nursing home. Being a police detective for 13 years, I know what it means to make notes and take photographs. I have plenty of each, concerning my mothers neglect and abuse. The nursing home owner is a big corporation with many Philadephia attorneys on their payroll. I have one attorney. He is willing to make the fight in court, but will we win the battle? Question: what do you think the chances are of us winning this case in civil court? My mother is 94, deaf, and a cripple.

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18 Answers

coffeenut's avatar

Are there any other people with same issues you can join with?

also getting the media involved will greatly increase your chances of success….

Ladymia69's avatar

I agree with @coffeenut – use the power of the media to supplement your case.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Go for it….

john65pennington's avatar

I had thought of this. Right now, I am afraid media coverage might have some bearing on selection of a civil jury. We are not at that point, yet. It is near. Today, the nursing home refused to give me a copy of her medical records. I am her POA, signed, sealed and delivered. I am her eyes and ears for her safety and this nursing home is way beyond neglecting her in many ways. The photos I have taken, tell the whole story. They have since fired 80% of the nurses and techs there, after I filed a complaint to the state here.

I will hold the media in my back pocket, when the timing is right. thanks.

john65pennington's avatar

What about the power of the AARP? Does being a member give me the right to ask for their help? There are millions of senior citizens in AARP and there is power in numbers.

What do you think?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Save the AARP for help with the media. They are after all mostly a lobbying/PR group.

You have a good chance of winning, especially if most of the jury has family in long term care. I am surprised they have not offered a large out of court settlement already. It is usually cheaper for a Nursing home company to pay the settlement than it is to go to court.

Ladymia69's avatar

AARP might be able to give you resources though. I would call and just talk to a representative.

Aster's avatar

I’m really sorry . If it were me, I would not sue them unless I could find a lawyer who would do it on contingency. Sure; if you pay them they’ll all do it ! But if the “if John doesn’t win I don’t get a dime” holds true, I’m not encouraged. Those lawyers have an answer for everything. They also appeal cases until the cows come home.
Mention “contingency” to most lawyers and they get quiet real fast.

dreamer31's avatar

@john65pennington I feel for you this is awful! The elderly always have and always will have a special place in my heart. Unfortunately this is not the case for all people and they could care less for the person and do it for the pay check. This is no answer but I truelly hope you win this lawsuit and pray your mother finds a caregiver that actually loves and cares for her, so she thouroughly enjoys the rest of her life. And you enjoy her too.
@Aster that’s a great idea and point. Lawyers are about the check too!

BarnacleBill's avatar

@john65pennington, this is the link to the Tennessee Elder Abuse pages. I know you said you’ve been reporting this; have you taken it to the state level?

Here’s the Bureau of Investigation for Elder Abuse.

Are you working with both of these groups?

Dutchess_III's avatar

John…you ARE keeping notes, like the one you just sent us… “had thought of this. Right now, I am afraid media coverage might have some bearing on selection of a civil jury. We are not at that point, yet. It is near. Today, the nursing home refused to give me a copy of her medical records. I am her POA, signed, sealed and delivered. I am her eyes and ears for her safety and this nursing home is way beyond neglecting her in many ways. The photos I have taken, tell the whole story. They have since fired 80% of the nurses and techs there, after I filed a complaint to the state here.”

Man…do you have the money for an attorney? I know you’ve brought this problem to us before, but I don’t remember if you mentioned consulting an attorney….I’m sorry.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III – in a case like this the attorney may work on a contingency, which means they will take 33% of whatever the settlement is. So up front, @john65pennington does not pay anything. When the big check comes, it is written to the attorney who then takes his ⅓.

Dutchess_III's avatar

K….. @john65pennington…please let us know. Please…

lynfromnm's avatar

It’s unlikely an attorney will represent you if they don’t think you have a decent shot. Attorneys don’t like to waste their time and resources. Certainly that doesn’t guarantee a win, but it is a little encouraging I think.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Exactly @lynfromnm..but consultation needed. That’s why I hope John’s keeping notes…O Lord…to be in his shoes…..
If I was an attorney, I’d flat go broke…

lynfromnm's avatar

@Dutchess III I’d be broke too. I don’t think I would do well at evaluating whether a case stands a chance. My outrage at the situation would definitely skew my objectivity.

gorillapaws's avatar

I’m not a lawyer, and don’t have all of the facts. I think there are a few of challenges you might face legally.

The first is that your mother is in her 90’s, and people in their 90’s can naturally deteriorate very quickly even with excellent care; you may have to show that she would otherwise be in good health had her care been better. The second is that you MAY (I’m not a lawyer) have to demonstrate that the home was deliberately neglecting your mother, and isn’t the result of a negligent staff who have been fired for bad behavior. Just like the police department usually can’t be sued because a couple of officers do something bad, it has to filter up to the higher-ups in the department knowing (or having good cause to have known, but ignored the warning signs) that there was a problem with those officers and ignored it. I suspect that their attorneys will try to separate the actions of their staff, from those of it’s management. Finally, if they have have access to lots of legal resources, they might be able to delay and complicate the case to the point that you/your lawyer can’t afford to continue. It also may be cheaper for them to just settle out of court and pursuing a media campaign might make that option difficult/impossible.

I’m not saying this because I think you won’t win, just to present some uneducated guesses about some of the challenges you might face.

I doubt anyone could tell you your odds of success based on the limited info we have, but I would absolutely find an attorney you trust and heed their advice about issues such as talking with the press or AARP etc. Do you have friends in the prosecutors office from your police days? Perhaps they can point you in the right direction as far as people to contact regarding civil action. I genuinely empathize with you. We’re dealing with something similar with my grandmother (who is also in her 90’s) and it’s been VERY difficult on my father. Wishing you and your family the best.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I think you have a good chance of bringing sanctions through the state nursing home licensing board. Are you dealing directly with the director of the nursing home, or with staff? Is the director denying you access to your mother’s records? Do you have a durable medical power of attorney as well as a general one?

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