Tom Schroeppel wrote the below letter to Tampa Bay Times on the Florida bill that will give corporate owners immunity for negligence that affects resident’s safety. My favorite line was “It’s like exempting an airline from lawsuits after a plane crash because the corporate leaders weren’t flying the plane.”
“As the son of a nursing home resident and as a longtime advocate for nursing home residents’ rights, I’m surprised and disappointed by Florida Senate Bill 670/House Bill 569. This bill effectively shields investors in nursing homes from civil lawsuits on behalf of injured or dead nursing home residents. As your article indicates, this bill appears specially designed to punish one law firm that has successfully tracked down and extracted legitimate damages from the real and often hidden owners of neglectful nursing homes.
The bill says that if you or a loved one is injured or dies due to nursing home negligence, you can sue everyone from the nursing home license holder — which can be a shell company with no assets — down to the overworked and low-paid nursing assistant actually providing care. Just don’t think about suing the parent company, because “passive investors” are exempted from all lawsuits.
A passive investor is defined as “an individual or entity that does not participate in the decisionmaking or operations of a facility.” This definition would encompass both the corporate owners of large nursing home chains and the private-equity companies that are increasingly seeing nursing homes as easy targets for acquisition, looting and disposal. It’s like exempting an airline from lawsuits after a plane crash because the corporate leaders weren’t flying the plane.
I also can’t understand how the many good nursing homes that belong to the Florida Health Care Association — the primary mover behind this bill — can back a bill that will benefit only their most venal and neglectful competitors, companies that put profits ahead of care and want to get off cheaply when they injure or kill their residents.
For the sake of all our vulnerable nursing home residents, I urge anyone who has a loved one in a nursing home or who may someday end up in a nursing home to contact his or her state legislator and urge them to kill this terrible bill. It does nothing but help bad nursing home operators avoid the legal consequences of injuring or killing their residents.”