Maree v. Neuwirth – Identifying Defendants in Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit

One of the main things nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence victims and their families look for when it all comes to light is accountability.suittie

Our Winston-Salem personal injury attorneys fight to make that a reality. One of the challenges, however, is first identifying and then pursuing all entities involved. That’s because the way an increasing number of for-profit firms are structured is with the intent of separating those who profit from the facility (often by slashing staff levels and other resources to dangerous levels) from liability when something goes wrong.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported back in 2009 that, “Nursing homes can use complex management structures that might obscure the entities responsible for delivering care and hamper the ability of residents and families to seek recourse through litigation.” This ability to create a maze of companies and sub-companies and de-centralize ownership and separate real estate from operations – it can make for a very difficult time in properly identifying responsible parties and holding them accountable. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced legal team on your side. 

An example of this cropped up recently in Oklahoma, in a case called Maree v. Neuwirth, before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. (Obviously, these issues aren’t unique to North Carolina.)

Court records indicated that the plaintiff is the daughter and personal representative of the estate of a woman who died shortly after a fall she suffered as a patient in a nursing home.

Plaintiff alleges her mother fell because staffers at the center did not timely respond to a “call light” so that her mother could receive assistance in using the bathroom. What’s more, after the fall, the nursing home purportedly failed to contact a doctor and other necessary health care providers for seven full hours.

Patient’s injuries were severe and she died just two days after the fall.

Plaintiff filed her lawsuit almost two years to the day of her mother’s death. She alleged her mother’s suffering was caused by the fact the nursing home – corporately and/or by and through its agents and employees – was negligent in providing care to her mother. Specifically, she asserted there wasn’t enough staff at the center to ensure all residents received the appropriate level of care. She also asserted the nursing home failed to comply with state and federal laws and regulations concerning long-term care facilities, and that her mother was the intended third-party beneficiary of the nursing home.

Then, nearly three years after filing her original complaint, she moved to amend it by adding additional defendants against whom she alleged direct negligent. Plaintiff argued these were individuals that were legally intertwined with and actually a part of the defendant, but whom plaintiff didn’t learn about until later because of the complex organizational structure. These entities were allegedly in charge of staffing, budgeting, hiring, policy and procedure setting and issuing directives to pertaining to patient care and supervision.

Defense argued the statute of limitations by that time had expired. Trial court agreed and denied her motion to add these newly-discovered defendants.

Plaintiff appealed and the state supreme court granted a Write of Prohibition barring the trial court from enforcing its earlier order.

The case will now proceed.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Maree v. Neuwirth, June 7, 2016, Oklahoma Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

Lik v. L.A. Fitness – Gym Injury Lawsuit to Proceed, June 12, 2016, Winston-Salem Injury Lawyer Blog

Contact Information