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Nursing Home Lawsuit Receives Class-Action Status from Supreme Court

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A lawsuit against a Fort Smith-based nursing home company can proceed as a class-action suit, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The lawsuit basically alleges that the Batesville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Little Rock, “failed to live up to contractual and statutory obligations to take care of the basic daily needs of hundreds of residents,” according to a news article in the Dallas Morning News.

When you get down to the specifics of what went wrong in the Arkansas nursing home, it’s what we at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys have been alleging in nursing home lawsuits for years, understaffing that leads to victimized clients. For example, this lawsuit states that over four years (2000 to 2004), the nursing home failed to provide proper care of its 489 residents. Why? Because, the suit says, they understaffed their facility.

On May 1, 2006, the courts granted class-action certification to the suit with respect to claims of statutory and contractual violations only, not claims of malpractice or personal injury. The defendants appealed that ruling. Attorneys arguing against granting the class-action certification said it would make it impossible to examine the issues in this case if each patient cannot be considered separately.

But an attorney for the plaintiffs argued that the case does not include personal injury claims, but claims involving issues such as understaffing, which affected all residents at that facility. The judge agreed with the plaintiffs’ attorney, that granting class-action status is better than having 400 separate trials on the same issue and with the same evidence.

Understaffing is a prevalent problem in most nursing homes, including many in California that we end up suing each year. When nursing home owners make that choice to enhance their profits by cutting staff who provide services to their customers, they are essentially stabbing those customers in the back. And that’s not an exaggeration.

Elderly patients end up not getting their medication in time, or in some cases, not getting them at all. In dependent care facilities, patients remain in soiled clothes for hours before a staff member can get to them. In these cases, it’s not the employees’ fault. It’s the fault of their bosses who pad their bank accounts by shortchanging their customers and their vulnerable families.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or fraud, call me, John Bisnar, 800-259-6373, for a free and completely confidential consultation. Now that my mom is moving to an assisted living facility, nursing home issues are a hot topic for me and hit much closer to home than ever before.

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