– Jan 17, 2017 –
Thank You President Obama
Friday, January 20, 2017 – To a man who inspired a nation to always do the right thing and stand by its core values in the most trying times; to aid its most vulnerable citizens even when it required self-sacrifice; who brought dignity and careful thought to the Office and our Nation – Thank you.
– Jan 10, 2017 –
State Repeatedly Fails To Hold Nursing Homes Accountable For Neglect and Abuse.
Sacramento Nursing Home Residents Who Suffer Abuse Often Not Vindicated by State.
The Department of Public Health (DPH) is tasked with overseeing nursing homes in California. DPH’s policies and enforcement practices have been widely criticized by those who follow nursing home neglect and abuse case in Sacramento. A recent Sacramento Bee article highlights one of the problems – arbitrary and insufficient enforcement – especially as it relates to penalties.
‘All they got was a slap on the hand.’ Is California low-balling penalties in nursing home death investigations?
Read the article here.
Even more aggravating for elder neglect lawyers, the Sacramento Department of Public Health, when receiving a state complaint has repeatedly failed to investigate them as such. Instead, they claim to be conducting “federal” investigations, and thereafter refuse to participate in civil claims and ignore state subpoenas, citing Federal regulations passed during the Bush administration that requires authorization for federal employees to testify – which is routinely denied.
This is what happened in a recent Sacramento elder neglect and abuse case after DPH investigated a state claim, then refused to produce a witness, citing Federal regulations:
DPH’s argument and the declaration of its witness, Heather Riley, is completely and utterly unsupported, flies in the face of California law, common sense, and is devoid of any actual evidence about what happened in this underlying investigation. It is uncontroverted that DPH’s primary obligation is to insure nursing homes comply with state laws and regulations. It is uncontroverted that under California law, complaints like the one made involving this defendant’s horrible neglect of Plaintiff requires an on-site inspection. It is uncontroverted that during these inspections, sometimes referred to as “surveys” DPH employees are required to evaluate compliance with state regulations. It is absolutely telling that in 10 pages of opposition, not once does DPH address the fact that California law, as cited in Plaintiffs’ moving papers, directs and requires the agency to investigate the claims of Plaintiff’s neglect. This is the California law DPH and the Attorney General now try to ignore, Health & Safety Code section 1420:
…the state department shall assign an inspector to make a preliminary review of the complaint and shall notify the complainant within two working days of the receipt of the complaint of the name of the inspector. Unless the state department determines that the complaint is willfully intended to harass a licensee or is without any reasonable basis, it shall make an onsite inspection or investigation within 10 working days of the receipt of the complaint….
(2) When conducting an onsite inspection or investigation pursuant to this section, the state department shall collect and evaluate all available evidence and may issue a citation based upon, but not limited to, all of the following:
(A) Observed conditions.
(B) Statements of witnesses.
(C) Facility records.
(3) Within 10 working days of the completion of the complaint investigation, the state department shall notify the complainant and licensee in writing of the department’s determination as a result of the inspection or investigation.
After all, it would seem a Deputy Attorney General for the State of California representing the California Department of Public Health would be at least familiar with state law on this issue and would be able to address why, in this particular circumstance, with this particular surveyor who is not Heather Riley, DPH was somehow not obligated to follow the law and specifically chose to violate California law and abdicate its duty to investigate. Instead, what the Attorney General does is put his head in the sand, pretend the law does not exist, wholly fails to address it, refers to unsupported hearsay evidence that has not been presented and which does not exist, and then intimates to the court that DPH has never lost one of these motions…. this is about Plaintiff – an 86-year-old dementia resident who was neglected to death by a facility that DPH knew to be a chronic bad-actor. Plaintiff was neglected so badly it caused a facility employee to call-in an anonymous complaint directly to DPH – not to CMS, not to DHHS. California law protected Plaintiff. California law required that DPH investigate on Plaintiff’s behalf. Now Plaintiff would like to have an hour’s worth of testimony about statements that critical witnesses made to DPH surveyor during her state law mandated complaint investigation. Instead, DPH (and CMS) wastes everyone’s time by refusing to produce the witness because the findings were written on a federal form instead of a state form. That is absolutely absurd and amounts to the most ludicrous waste of resources imaginable, especially since plaintiffs have indicated with all of these bureaucrats from the very beginning that we were solely interested in the State investigation and specific statements made therein, that we would wholly forego any document requests, and we would be as cooperative as possible to not burden government resources….
The government refused to produce the witness, indicating they did not do a state inspection. Thanks DPH.
– July 25, 2016 –
NY Times Editorial Board Announces Its Support of Ending Forced Arbitration For Nursing Home Residents.
Nursing Home Residents Still Vulnerable to Abuse
People entering Sacramento nursing homes need to know that all reasonable safeguards are in place to ensure quality care. But federal rules to be finalized soon fail to hold nursing homes truly accountable to patients, their families or the law.
At issue are arbitration clauses in Sacramento nursing home contracts that require consumers to settle any disputes that arise over products or services through private arbitration rather than through lawsuits. Corporations of all sorts love forced arbitration because it overwhelmingly tilts in their favor and shields them from liability. But in the process, it denies justice to consumers, investors, patients and others who find they have no legal recourse when wronged.
Forced arbitration is especially problematic in Sacramento nursing home disputes, which are generally about care, not money. (Medicare and Medicaid pay many nursing home bills.) Typical claims involve neglect or abuse leading to broken limbs, dehydration and untreated pain.
The proposals, by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, should have banned pre-dispute arbitration clauses in Sacramento nursing home contracts. Instead, they basically condone them as long as these homes take some legalistic steps to explain and disclose the clauses and do not make signing them a condition of admission. Those provisions skirt the real problem. Prospective patients do not have the necessary information to make a decision about signing the clauses. How could they before a dispute even arises? In essence, families are being asked to anticipate the likelihood of grievous harm and legal ramifications. A Sacramento nursing home admission is stressful and confusing enough without your being asked to sign away your right to sue.
The proposed rule acknowledges “concerns” about forced arbitration and notes that regulators solicited comment on whether the clauses should be banned. A ban is needed — and if nursing home regulators won’t impose one, the White House Office of Management and Budget, which will review the rule before its scheduled release in September, needs to ask for a revision. If the industry wants to seek private arbitration it should be allowed to do so, but only after a dispute arises, not before.
Read the article here.
– March 27, 2016 –
How Nursing Homes Use and Ruin Kind-Hearted CNA’s & Nurses.
Residents aren’t the only one who suffer at understaffed, under-supported facilities.
Elder abuse and neglect in Sacramento nursing homes is a systemic problem. But the problem often is not the folks trying their best to provide as much care as possible to residents. Yet, RN’s and CNA’s are often “rewarded” with having to watch residents they care about die, lose limbs from amputations, develop horrible life-threatening wounds and more. Nurses and CNAs experience the victimization of corporate elder neglect at nursing homes firsthand. Oftentimes, try as hard as they might, there is just not enough hours in the day, supervision and support around them, and/or resources available to them to allow these genuinely caring individuals to provide quality care to the frail elderly residents relying on them. Corporations systematically tie the hands of nurses, LVN’s and CNA’s, setting them up for failure, and then fire or criticize them when the inevitable conclusions of the corporate thirst for profits comes true.
It ruins good nurses. It sucks the life out of hard-working, caring people. To be a caregiver, you have to be empathetic. You have to be sympathetic. I’ve seen large numbers or nurses and caregivers ruined because they were put in this position to fail and, though truly not their fault, these empathetic, sympathetic workers carry the guilt of seeing what happens at an understaffed, unsupervised, unsupported facility – frail elderly, kind, sweet people unnecessarily die, get horrific pressure sores, repeatedly fall, and more. There are a lot more victims than just the resident when a nursing home corporation attempts to maximize profits at the expense of resident care – nurses and those working with residents also suffer.
– Dec 1, 2015 –
A Good View on Nursing Home Forced Arbitration Agreements.
The Law Firm of Sean R. Laird applauds Senator Waxman’s desire to protect nursing home residents .
Elder abuse and neglect in Sacramento nursing homes is a systemic problem. From dehydration to death, infected bedsores, medication errors, repeated falls, and more, local homes have been plagued by ongoing neglect. What is more concerning is the industry’s fight to keep families from seeking justice by forcing them into arbitration, rather than having their day in court.
Former Senator Henry Waxman wrote a great op-ed piece in the Sacramento Bee, lauding the prosed CMS rule banning forced arbitration agreements in Nursing Homes. The Law Firm of Sean R. Laird endorses this article and warns families – do not sign these agreements.
See the full article here and read excerpts below: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article45254682.html
…That’s why, as an original author of the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act that granted the center regulatory authority over nursing homes, I strongly urge it to ban forced arbitration because its sole function is to evade accountability…
Predispute arbitration clauses deny patients and their families this fundamental right – an injustice made all the more egregious because they are almost always signed under duress.
And it gets worse: If your mother suffers abuse or neglect and you choose to do something about it, you will enter a kangaroo court in which the outcome is rigged against you. Not only does the nursing home choose the arbitrator (who then has a financial incentive to side with the home to obtain repeat business), but you have no right to appeal the decision of the arbitrator, who may have little or no legal training.
– Oct 20, 2015 –
Law Firm of Sean R. Laird Urges Support Against Nursing Home Forced Arbitration Agreements.
The Law Firm of Sean R. Laird announced its support of the CMS proposal to eliminate forced arbitration provisions from nursing home admission agreements.
Imagine your loved one is severely neglected in a nursing home that promised to provide 24-hour, specialized care. He or she becomes severely dehydrated, or develops pressure sores, malnutrition or widespread sepsis and infection, or a combination thereof. They are rushed to the hospital where doctors denounce the treatment they received and urge you to look into what happened to them at the nursing home.
You talk to a nursing home neglect and elder abuse attorney who tells you there is clear evidence of neglect; that the facility was well aware of the problems in they company, but did little or nothing to address them, other than ask residents or their loved ones to sign an arbitration agreement at admission, which prevents you from bringing a lawsuit against the facility. CMS, the Center for Medicare Services, is considering banning this practice.
Recently NPR did a piece addressing this is. The Law Firm of Sean R. Laird urges you to NEVER sign an arbitration agreement and to support the proposed changes banning them in nursing home admissions.
Find the full article here:
Listen to the Audio Here:
Audio NPR Story
– Feb 18, 2015 –
Law Firm of Sean R. Laird Announces The Filing of Complaint Against EMQ FamiliesFirst Group Home.
The Law Firm of Sean R. Laird announced the filing of a multi-count complaint against FamiliesFirst, Inc., the corporation which owned and operated the now shuttered EMQ Families First group home in Davis, CA. The allegations were filed on behalf of a 12 year old boy who was the victim of a physical and sexual assault while residing at the facility. The complaint alleges that the assaults took place after the school and its administrators had been made aware that staff reductions were putting students at risk of serious harm.
The complaint alleges that those tasked with supervising and monitoring the facility “ignored the avalanche of warnings which repeatedly put defendants on notice that resident care at EMQ Davis was rapidly deteriorating, and that children were, in turn, suffering harm. In the face of these warnings Defendants provided abysmal care that fell well below how reasonable persons in their situation would have performed.”
View the KCRA investigative report into the lawsuit and EMQ FamiliesFirst HERE.
– August 19, 2014 –
Law Firm of Sean R. Laird Supports Key Legislation That Seeks to Curb Elder Neglect in Assisted Living Facilities By Strengthening Regulations.
Assisted living facility elder neglect and abuse is a critical topic that needs to be addressed in California. Elderly neglect is allowed to go unpunished when state enforcement agencies do not have the tools to enforce Title 22 regulations.
The Law Firm of Sean R. Laird is encouraging Californians to write their legislators and encourage them to support two key pieces of legislation that could help the fight to stop elder abuse. This week is a critical week in the fight to pass legislation that will help to curb elderly neglect and abuse.
One bill, AB 2236 (Brian Maienschein; R-San Diego, Mark Stone; D-Monterey): Increases fines for health and safety violations at assisted living facilities, now set at a maximum of $150. The bill calls for fines for violations that can cause death to increase to $15,000. Fines of $150 are absolutely NO deterrent to large, for-profit nursing homes.
The other bill, SB 911 (Marty Block; D-San Diego): Requires higher levels of training for facility managers and staff at assisted living facilities. Assisted living facilities include facilities like those owned and operated by Emeritus Corporation, which has been the subject of many lawsuits and extensive medial coverage.
“Both of these bills would help make strides in providing better care to Californians who are in assisted living facilities,” said Stop EA attorney, Sean Laird. “Take action and contact your representatives in the Senate and Assembly to make sure these bills continue and eventually make it to the Governor’s desk.”
The two bills face a critical fight this week. AB 2236 will next be heard on the Senate floor, and the full Assembly will hear SB 911. To find your state senator and contact information, visithttp://senate.ca.gov/senators. To find your state assembly member and contact information, visithttp://assembly.ca.gov/assemblymembers.
“Reach out to them and ask them to vote yes on these bills that protect the elderly people that mean so much in our lives. These bills have Stop EA’s full support,” Laird said.
Although California has a set of rules that seek to regulate the behavior of assisted living facilities, these regulations are virtually meaningless when not enforced or enforced with fines that have absolutely no financial impact on large, for-profit assisted living facility corporations that have policies which have the potential to lead to widespread neglect of residents.
Sean Laird is a California lawyer who seeks justice for families whose loved one’s have been harmed in these facilities and attempts to ensure that the same thing does not happen to the next vulnerable, unsuspecting family.
Those who are concerned about the quality of care their loved ones may be receiving in one of these facilities can obtain a free, private case evaluation from Mr. Laird by calling 916-441-1636 .
Full press release here.