The nursing home “king” of Arkansas (Michael Morton) has set up multiple channels by which money was funneled to previously discussed Mike Maggio.  Interestingly, about $18,000 on the day the jury verdict for abuse and neglect was arbitrarily reduced from $5.2 million to $1 million.  See full story at Blue Hog Report.

 

In February 2012, Estate of Martha Bull v. Greenbrier Care Center, Central Arkansas Nursing Center, and Michael Morton was filed in Faulkner County and was assigned to Judge Maggio. Morton is the owner of Greenbrier Care Center d/b/a Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, as well as Central Arkansas Nursing Center and many, many other nursing-home facilities.

The complaint alleged that Martha Bull, aged 76, had died at the nursing home on April 7, 2008, due to neglect and negligence on the part of Greenbrier Care Center staff. Because Greenbrier was managed by Central Arkansas Nursing, which was in turn owned by Morton, the complaint argued that Central Arkansas Nursing and Morton were also vicariously liable for the death of Ms. Bull. On April 19, 2013, Maggio entered orders that dismissed Morton and Central Arkansas Nursing from the suit.

At trial, the jury heard testimony and saw evidence of neglect and abuse that caused the resident’s death. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Ms. Bull’s estate and awarded the estate $5.2 million on May 8, 2013. The order was entered on June 6, 2013.

On July 8, 2013, Judge Maggio granted Greenbrier Care Center’s motion for a remittitur hearing, because he found that the $5.2M award against the nursing home “shock[ed] the conscience of the court. Also occurring on July 8, 2013?

•Sherwood Nursing (owned by Morton) contributed $3,000 to GO Good Government PAC. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $2,000 to Maggio on December 5, 2013, and $250 on January 28, 2014.

•MSM Properties, Inc. (owned by Morton) contributed $3,000 to Thomas Group In PAC. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $2,000 to Maggio on December 5, 2013, and $250 on January 28, 2014.

•Quapaw Care & Rehabilitation Center (owned by Morton) contributed $3,000 to Judicial Reform PAC / Citizens for Judicial Reform. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $500 to Maggio on December 31, 2013, and $1,000 on January 28, 2014.

•Briarwood Nursing (owned by Morton) contributed $3,000 to Citizens for Information Technology PAC. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $1,450 to Maggio on January 28, 2014.

•Central Arkansas Nursing Centers (owned by Morton, and previously a defendant in the case above) contributed $3,000 to DBH 2 PAC. That PAC was registered (late) by Chris Stewart on August 8, 2013, and the PAC donated $2,000 to Maggio on December 5, 2013, and $1,000 on January 28, 2014.

•Michael Morton contributed $3,000 to Conservative Persons in PAC. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $500 to Maggio on December 31, 2013, and $1,000 on January 28, 2014.

•Good Shephard (owned by Morton) contributed $3,000 to Taxpayers for Change PAC. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $1,000 to Maggio on — wait for it — January 28, 2014.

Seven PACs, none of which existed prior to July 31, 2013, and all of which received the same amount of money from Michael Morton (or a Morton-owned entity) on the exact same date, which also happens to be the date that Maggio agreed to a remittitur hearing, some 32 days after the order was entered.  And, most damning, the PACs all gave money directly to Maggio on the same dates. Five of the seven gave money only to Maggio, and a sixth gave only $250 to one other candidate.

It appears that Mike Maggio let Michael Morton buy his way out of full responsibility for the death of Martha Bull for less than one cent on the dollar.

The real reason Maggio reduced the jury award to $1M was because Morton carried $1M in insurance coverage, so a $1M award wouldn’t actually cost Morton anything. Which means that Morton was apparently able to remove any personal liability in the case for the low, low price of $21,000. If that doesn’t make you angry, you aren’t paying attention.

And what is even MORE interesting….following this money trail has led us to a land where the nursing home industry appears to be trying to buy influence in courts. There’s $100,000 accounted for in donations from Michael Morton/nursing home entities to a three Supreme Court judges/candidates and one Court of Appeals candidate. See article in the Arkansas Times.

Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne has recently reported $7,000 from Morton’s companies and $7,000 from entities under Victoria Healthcare Inc., owned by Joshua and Ken Kilgore.

Associate Justice Karen Baker of the Supreme Court is another recipient of about $18,000 in nursing home industry money that links back to Morton.

Past Circuit Judge Rhonda Wood, of Conway, who now sits on the Court of Appeals and is running unopposed for the Supreme Court, has recently reported more than $60,000 in campaign contributions from entities linked to Reliance Healthcare Management and Morton.

 

 

 

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