Recently in Nursing Home Abuse Category

September 26, 2014

New Mexico Court of Appeals Refuses to Enforce Arbitration Clause in Nursing Home Neglect Case

Earlier this year in the case of Cecil v. Skilled Healthcare, the New Mexico Court of Appeals made a ruling that allowed a plaintiff's negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home to proceed, rejecting a clause in the nursing home contract that mandated all claims be addressed only through arbitration. As a result of this ruling, the family of a man who died while in the care of the nursing home will be able to have their claims heard by the state court and potentially given the opportunity for a jury to find the defendants liable for the death of their loved one.

courtroom-1-1207444-m.jpgArbitration Agreements in Nursing Home Contracts

Many nursing home residency agreements require a prospective resident to agree that any civil claims against the nursing home can only be resolved through arbitration. Arbitration is an alternative form of dispute resolution in which the parties agree to have their dispute heard by an arbitrator, which is a private party that takes the place of the courts. In arbitration, the parties argue their cases in a court-like environment, and the decision of the arbitrator is final and enforceable, as if it were a court order. If a plaintiff has agreed to an enforceable arbitration clause, he or she must file any claim with the arbitrator and follow the rules and procedures of the arbitrator.

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November 19, 2010

Airborn Hospital Infections - Change is in the Air

New Mexico hospitals are where you want to be when injured or sick, however, they are also capable not of helping heal you, but rather causing an infection. Many infections, are called a risk-of-the-procedure, meaning there may be no legal basis to pursue a case. However, some hospital infections are different an entirely preventable.

Considering such hospital infections are a top 10 cause of death in America, preventing future infections is a true development in medicine. By the same token, it means that infections should no longer be the risks they used to be and that hospital infections should no longer benefit for legal loopholes as they have in the past.

The New Mexico Health Department has recently joined a movement to track infections with a goal of minimizing patient risks. Simultaneously, a recent advisory committee is recommending New Mexico Hospitals be required to report infection rates. Local hospitals that have expressed a level of participation in the movement include: University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, as well as Lovelace in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

November 17, 2010

Autism Child Abuse

Prior beginning a career in New Mexico personal injury law, I spent some time handling criminal cases. While there is certainly an assortment of sad stories and gruesome crimes, perhaps none were as difficult to stomach as child abuse. When it comes to New Mexico child abuse cases, a recent story is perhaps more disturbing than most any other.

The incident occurred at Camelot of New Mexico when a staff member began kneeing an autistic child in the head repeatedly. The facility was built to care for and protect such special needs children, and what occurred reflects a gross disregard for the safety of patients.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there. Supposedly the mother of the victim released a statement indicating she was “happy” with her son's medical care. When questioned on her statement the mother indicated that somebody hired by Camelot made it seem as though she had prepared statement.

When asked to comment on this claim the director of the facility claimed that although she hired a public relations firm, she could not comment on whether the mother's claim was true.

Although the abuse of the autistic child is not necessarily the most violent, the fact that it occurred at a facility that is paid to protect children, and then perhaps tried to cover up wrongdoing is what makes this incident so troubling.

August 18, 2009

Large New Mexico Medical Malpractice Reversed

Albuquerque medical malpractice verdicts are hard to come by. Heck, New Mexico medical malpractice lawyers will tell anyone that these case are some of the most hardly fought for anywhere in New Mexico. It is because of this that a recent New Mexico Court of Appeals decision is rippling through the state.

A while ago there was a large multi-million dollar jury verdict that was awarded in a New Mexico nursing home abuse case. The decision set various records and sent a strong message to New Mexico nursing homes on how that had to treat their patients. The case was reversed on what some may consider a legal technicality, while other may recognize as a material issue. As a result of the appellate court's ruling, the massive verdict has disappeared like a David Copperfield assistant.

The claim was based on part on the trial court's ruling that the nursing facility, under a legal theory of agency, was responsible for the conduct of the nursing home staff. Rather than present this particular issue to a jury, the trial judge decided that it was essentially an issue of law rather than fact. Unfortunately, the New Mexico Court of Appeals thinks differently and has ruled that the jury should have been allowed to decide if the New Mexico nursing home was responsible for the conduct of every staff member. As a result of the decision, the multi-million dollar verdict is gone, and the case is back to where it was years ago.