Iowa Appellate Court Reverses $6 Million Nursing Home Negligence Decision Because of Hearsay Testimony

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A, LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On June 21, 2023, the Iowa Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in a nursing home negligence case that awarded $6 million in compensation and damages to the plaintiff. The case was reversed and remanded for a new trial because the trial court judge admitted inadmissible hearsay testimony into evidence. The testimony being appealed was that of staff members who claimed to have heard “reports” and “rumors” of alleged abuse by a nurse on staff toward not only the resident in question but other residents.
Hearsay in Iowa law is defined as “a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Click here to read the Iowa Rules of Evidence concerning hearsay. This is the same definition used by the federal and most other courts.
Essentially, hearsay is when someone repeats something they heard from another person and presents it as if they know it to be true. Hearsay is often equated to rumor. Hearsay is not admissible due to the nature of speculation required in making such a statement, the fact that such statements are inherently unreliable and that the actual witness is not in court to answer questions about it. Thus there is no way for a party or the judge to test the credibility of the actual witness or determine facts that may have influenced the observation and statement.
Hearsay is considered unreliable because the person who knows what happened (who saw what happened or heard what happened) is not to be questioned about it. Therefore, there is no way to know what really happened for sure.
Details of the Case. 
In this case, the estate of the former nursing home resident, who succumbed to her injuries after a fall in the nursing home, claimed adult abuse and that negligence caused a wrongful death. In its defense, the nursing home focused on the alleged abuse by a nurse on the staff. The statements challenged in the appeal included testimony made by six nursing home staff members that residents, other unnamed employees, and an Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals surveyor told them that the nurse in question had been physically rough with and swore at residents.
The employees testifying did not actually witness any such incidents. They were only testifying about someone else’s words (“hearsay”). 
The trial court admitted these statements, allegedly not for their truth, but in an attempt to show that abuse had been reported and there had not been any follow-up investigation. The appellate court stated that this was not a valid reason to admit inadmissible hearsay into evidence because the estate must prove that the conduct existed to prevent the jury from engaging in rampant speculation based on unreliable hearsay evidence.
People in today’s society, yes, even judges, often forget this basic principle of law. With all of the fabricated lies being put out as “news” on some news channels, Internet rumors running rampant, and politicians making egregiously false statements, it’s often hard to remember how to distinguish a fact from an unreliable rumor or hearsay.
This is one of the problems with hearsay. It is often just gossip and rumor, which change from person to person. Especially egregious conduct, criminal activity, and salacious acts become increasingly exaggerated with each retelling. The founding fathers in English and American law realized the inherently unreliable nature of such “evidence.”
Under the hearsay rule, the Court of Appeals agreed with the nursing home that the statements being challenged were inadmissible hearsay evidence that influenced the jury’s verdict. Due to this, the court reversed the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial. To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.
Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents health professionals and health facilities in civil and administrative litigation. We also represent physicians, nurses, and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, board hearings, inspections, and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board-certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.  We represent medical students, interns, resident physicians, and fellows in disputes with their graduate medical education (GME) programs.  We represent clinical professors and instructors in contract disputes, employment disputes, clinical privileges matters, and other disputes with their employers.  We often act as the physician’s personal counsel in medical malpractice litigation.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Source: 
About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with the health law firm. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

DOJ Files False Claims Suit Against Nursing Homes Over “Substandard Services and Nonexistent” Care

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On June 15, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has sued three nursing homes in Ohio and Pennsylvania, citing their “grossly substandard skilled nursing services.” The False Claims Act (FCA) complaint against the American Health Foundation (AHF), its affiliate AHF Management Corporation, and three nursing homes alleges the facilities fraudulently billed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for often “nonexistent care.”

According to the complaint, all three AHF nursing homes not only provided substandard nursing home care services that failed to meet required standards of care but also did not maintain adequate staffing levels between 2016 and 2018.

Click here to view the complaint filed by the DOJ in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

FCA Violations For “Substandard or Nonexistent Care.”

The government alleged AHF Management and its entities violated the FCA stemming from reimbursements for “grossly substandard” care provided at the Cheltenham, Wilmington Place, and Samaritan nursing homes.

“The defendants knowingly submitted, or caused the submission of, false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for nursing home care and services that were blatantly substandard or nonexistent,” the complaint read. “The Medicare and Medicaid programs provided reimbursement for the claims, but these payments were by mistake as CMS didn’t know the true and full extent of the defendants’ failure to provide patients with proper treatment and care.”

Alleged Patient Conditions and Mistreatment.

Examples of the appalling conditions described in the complaint included housing elderly and medically vulnerable patients in “pest-infested” buildings whose belongings were often stolen; giving residents unnecessary medications, including antibiotic, anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, and hypnotic drugs; subjecting residents to verbal abuse; neglecting to provide residents with activities or stimulation, and failing to provide needed psychiatric care.

Additionally, the complaint outlines the suicide of a resident who was admitted with a history of self-harm and was later hospitalized after slashing his wrists but still was not provided psychiatric services. Tragically, just weeks after readmission, the resident committed suicide by hanging himself from a bedsheet in a shower room, justice officials said.

“Nursing homes are expected to provide their residents, which include some of our most vulnerable individuals, with quality care and to treat them with dignity and respect,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the DOJ’s Civil Division in a statement. He continued, “the department will not tolerate nursing homes, or their owners or managing entities, who abdicate these responsibilities and seek taxpayer funds to which they are not entitled.”

To read the DOJ’s press release in full on the case, click here.

The United States’ complaint stems from an investigation that the DOJ initiated as part of its “National Nursing Home Initiative.” The department launched the initiative in March 2020 to identify and investigate nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care.

Click here to learn more about the Justice Department’s nursing home initiative.

The case is United States v. American Health Foundation Inc., case number 2:22-cv-02344, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling False Claims Act (FCA) Violations, Investigations, and other Legal Proceedings.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in defending audits and investigations by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Florida Department of Health (DOH), Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), state boards of medicine, state boards of pharmacy, and state boards of nursing. They also represent health professionals and providers in administrative litigation (state and federal) and civil litigation (state and federal). They represent physicians, nurses, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, dentists, pharmacies, assisted living facilities, and other healthcare providers and institutions in recovery actions and termination from Medicare and Medicaid Programs.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

D’Annunzio, P.J. “Feds Hit Nursing Home With FCA Suit Over ‘Nonexistent’ Care.” Law360. (June 15, 2022). Web.

Marceas, Kimberly. ‘Grossly substandard’ care leads to False Claims charges for Ohio-based nursing home operator. McKnights Long Term Care News. (June 16, 2022). Web.

“Nursing Homes Face DOJ False Claims Suit Over Standards of Care.” Bloomberg Law. (June 15, 2022). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2022 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Iowa Appellate Court Reverses $6 Million Nursing Home Negligence Decision Because of Hearsay Testimony

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A, LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On June 21, 2023, the Iowa Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in a nursing home negligence case that awarded $6 million in compensation and damages to the plaintiff. The case was reversed and remanded for a new trial because the trial court judge admitted inadmissible hearsay testimony into evidence. The testimony being appealed was that of staff members who claimed to have heard “reports” and “rumors” of alleged abuse by a nurse on staff toward not only the resident in question but other residents.
Hearsay in Iowa law is defined as “a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Click here to read the Iowa Rules of Evidence concerning hearsay. This is the same definition used by the federal and most other courts.
Essentially, hearsay is when someone repeats something they heard from another person and presents it as if they know it to be true. Hearsay is often equated to rumor. Hearsay is not admissible due to the nature of speculation required in making such a statement, the fact that such statements are inherently unreliable and that the actual witness is not in court to answer questions about it. Thus there is no way for a party or the judge to test the credibility of the actual witness or determine facts that may have influenced the observation and statement.
Hearsay is considered unreliable because the person who knows what happened (who saw what happened or heard what happened) is not to be questioned about it. Therefore, there is no way to know what really happened for sure.
Details of the Case. 
In this case, the estate of the former nursing home resident, who succumbed to her injuries after a fall in the nursing home, claimed adult abuse and that negligence caused a wrongful death. In its defense, the nursing home focused on the alleged abuse by a nurse on the staff. The statements challenged in the appeal included testimony made by six nursing home staff members that residents, other unnamed employees, and an Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals surveyor told them that the nurse in question had been physically rough with and swore at residents.
The employees testifying did not actually witness any such incidents. They were only testifying about someone else’s words (“hearsay”). 
The trial court admitted these statements, allegedly not for their truth, but in an attempt to show that abuse had been reported and there had not been any follow-up investigation. The appellate court stated that this was not a valid reason to admit inadmissible hearsay into evidence because the estate must prove that the conduct existed to prevent the jury from engaging in rampant speculation based on unreliable hearsay evidence.
People in today’s society, yes, even judges, often forget this basic principle of law. With all of the fabricated lies being put out as “news” on some news channels, Internet rumors running rampant, and politicians making egregiously false statements, it’s often hard to remember how to distinguish a fact from an unreliable rumor or hearsay.
This is one of the problems with hearsay. It is often just gossip and rumor, which change from person to person. Especially egregious conduct, criminal activity, and salacious acts become increasingly exaggerated with each retelling. The founding fathers in English and American law realized the inherently unreliable nature of such “evidence.”
Under the hearsay rule, the Court of Appeals agreed with the nursing home that the statements being challenged were inadmissible hearsay evidence that influenced the jury’s verdict. Due to this, the court reversed the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial. To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.
Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents health professionals and health facilities in civil and administrative litigation. We also represent physicians, nurses, and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, board hearings, inspections, and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board-certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.  We represent medical students, interns, resident physicians, and fellows in disputes with their graduate medical education (GME) programs.  We represent clinical professors and instructors in contract disputes, employment disputes, clinical privileges matters, and other disputes with their employers.  We often act as the physician’s personal counsel in medical malpractice litigation.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Source: 
About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with the health law firm. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Iowa Appellate Court Reverses $6 Million Nursing Home Negligence Decision Because of Hearsay Testimony

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A, LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On June 21, 2023, the Iowa Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in a nursing home negligence case that awarded $6 million in compensation and damages to the plaintiff. The case was reversed and remanded for a new trial because the trial court judge admitted inadmissible hearsay testimony into evidence. The testimony being appealed was that of staff members who claimed to have heard “reports” and “rumors” of alleged abuse by a nurse on staff toward not only the resident in question but other residents.
Hearsay in Iowa law is defined as “a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Click here to read the Iowa Rules of Evidence concerning hearsay. This is the same definition used by the federal and most other courts.
Essentially, hearsay is when someone repeats something they heard from another person and presents it as if they know it to be true. Hearsay is often equated to rumor. Hearsay is not admissible due to the nature of speculation required in making such a statement, the fact that such statements are inherently unreliable and that the actual witness is not in court to answer questions about it. Thus there is no way for a party or the judge to test the credibility of the actual witness or determine facts that may have influenced the observation and statement.
Hearsay is considered unreliable because the person who knows what happened (who saw what happened or heard what happened) is not to be questioned about it. Therefore, there is no way to know what really happened for sure.
Details of the Case. 
In this case, the estate of the former nursing home resident, who succumbed to her injuries after a fall in the nursing home, claimed adult abuse and that negligence caused a wrongful death. In its defense, the nursing home focused on the alleged abuse by a nurse on the staff. The statements challenged in the appeal included testimony made by six nursing home staff members that residents, other unnamed employees, and an Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals surveyor told them that the nurse in question had been physically rough with and swore at residents.
The employees testifying did not actually witness any such incidents. They were only testifying about someone else’s words (“hearsay”). 
The trial court admitted these statements, allegedly not for their truth, but in an attempt to show that abuse had been reported and there had not been any follow-up investigation. The appellate court stated that this was not a valid reason to admit inadmissible hearsay into evidence because the estate must prove that the conduct existed to prevent the jury from engaging in rampant speculation based on unreliable hearsay evidence.
People in today’s society, yes, even judges, often forget this basic principle of law. With all of the fabricated lies being put out as “news” on some news channels, Internet rumors running rampant, and politicians making egregiously false statements, it’s often hard to remember how to distinguish a fact from an unreliable rumor or hearsay.
This is one of the problems with hearsay. It is often just gossip and rumor, which change from person to person. Especially egregious conduct, criminal activity, and salacious acts become increasingly exaggerated with each retelling. The founding fathers in English and American law realized the inherently unreliable nature of such “evidence.”
Under the hearsay rule, the Court of Appeals agreed with the nursing home that the statements being challenged were inadmissible hearsay evidence that influenced the jury’s verdict. Due to this, the court reversed the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial. To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.
Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents health professionals and health facilities in civil and administrative litigation. We also represent physicians, nurses, and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, board hearings, inspections, and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board-certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.  We represent medical students, interns, resident physicians, and fellows in disputes with their graduate medical education (GME) programs.  We represent clinical professors and instructors in contract disputes, employment disputes, clinical privileges matters, and other disputes with their employers.  We often act as the physician’s personal counsel in medical malpractice litigation.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Source: 
About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with the health law firm. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Iowa Appellate Court Reverses $6 Million Nursing Home Negligence Decision Because of Hearsay Testimony

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A, LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On June 21, 2023, the Court of Appeals of Iowa overturned the verdict in a nursing home negligence case that awarded $6 million in compensation and damages to the plaintiff. The case was reversed and remanded for a new trial because inadmissible hearsay testimony was admitted into evidence by the trial court judge. The testimony being appealed was that of staff members who claimed to have heard “reports” and “rumors” of alleged abuse by a nurse on staff toward, not only the resident in question but other residents as well.

Hearsay in Iowa law is defined as “a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Click here to read the Iowa Rules of Evidence concerning hearsay.  This is the same definition used by the federal courts and most other courts.

Essentially, hearsay is when someone repeats something they heard from another person and presents it as if they know it to be true. Hearsay is often equated to rumor. Hearsay is not admissible due to the nature of speculation required in making such a statement, the fact that such statements are inherently unreliable, and the fact that the actual witness is not in court to answer questions about it. Thus there is no way for a party or the judge to test the credibility of the actual witness or determine facts that may have influenced the observation and statement.

Hearsay is considered unreliable because the person who actually knows what happened (who saw what happened or heard what happened) is not present to be questioned about it. Therefore, there is no way to know what really happened for sure.

Details of the Case. 

In this case, the estate of the former nursing home resident, who succumbed to her injuries after a fall in the nursing home claimed adult abuse and that negligence caused a wrongful death. In its defense, the nursing home focused on the alleged abuse by a nurse on the staff. The statements that were challenged in the appeal included testimony made by six members of the nursing home staff that residents, other unnamed employees, and an Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals surveyor told them that the nurse in question had been physically rough with and swore at residents.

The employees testifying did not actually witness any such incidents. They were only testifying as to what they had heard someone else say (“hearsay”).

The trial court admitted these statements, allegedly not for their truth, but in an attempt to show that abuse had been reported and there had not been any follow-up investigation. The appellate court stated that this was not a valid reason to admit inadmissible hearsay into evidence because the estate must show clear proof that the conduct existed in order to prevent the jury from engaging in rampant speculation based on unreliable hearsay evidence.

People in today’s society, yes, even judges, often forget this basic principle of law. With all of the completely fabricated lies being put out as “news” on some news channels, with Internet rumors running rampant, and with politicians making egregiously false statements, it’s often hard to remember how to distinguish a fact from unreliable rumor or hearsay.

This is one of the problems with hearsay. It is often just gossip and rumor which change from person to person. Especially egregious conduct, criminal activity, and salacious acts become more and more exaggerated with each retelling. The founding fathers in English and American law realized the inherently unreliable nature of such “evidence.”

Under the hearsay rule, the Court of Appeals agreed with the nursing home that the statements being challenged were inadmissible hearsay evidence that influenced the jury’s verdict. Due to this, the court reversed the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial. To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents health professionals and health facilities in civil and administrative litigation. We also represent physicians, nurses, and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, board hearings, inspections, and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.  We represent medical students, interns, resident physicians, and fellows in disputes with their graduate medical education (GME) programs.  We represent clinical professors and instructors in contract disputes, employment disputes, clinical privileges matters, and other disputes with their employers.  We often act as the physician’s personal counsel in medical malpractice litigation.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Source: 

Kang, Y. Peter. “Iowa Court Overturns $6M Nursing Home Negligence Verdict.” Law360. (June 22, 2023). https://www.law360.com/health/articles/1691891?nl_pk=0cbd4c0b-c6c8-416a-9e67-b4affa63b102&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=health&utm_content=2023-06-23&nlsidx=0&nlaidx=9

About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with the health law firm. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Iowa Appellate Court Reverses $6 Million Nursing Home Negligence Decision Because of Hearsay Testimony

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A, LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On June 21, 2023, the Iowa Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in a nursing home negligence case that awarded $6 million in compensation and damages to the plaintiff. The case was reversed and remanded for a new trial because the trial court judge admitted inadmissible hearsay testimony into evidence. The testimony being appealed was that of staff members who claimed to have heard “reports” and “rumors” of alleged abuse by a nurse on staff toward not only the resident in question but other residents.
Hearsay in Iowa law is defined as “a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Click here to read the Iowa Rules of Evidence concerning hearsay. This is the same definition used by the federal and most other courts.
Essentially, hearsay is when someone repeats something they heard from another person and presents it as if they know it to be true. Hearsay is often equated to rumor. Hearsay is not admissible due to the nature of speculation required in making such a statement, the fact that such statements are inherently unreliable and that the actual witness is not in court to answer questions about it. Thus there is no way for a party or the judge to test the credibility of the actual witness or determine facts that may have influenced the observation and statement.
Hearsay is considered unreliable because the person who knows what happened (who saw what happened or heard what happened) is not to be questioned about it. Therefore, there is no way to know what really happened for sure.
Details of the Case. 
In this case, the estate of the former nursing home resident, who succumbed to her injuries after a fall in the nursing home, claimed adult abuse and that negligence caused a wrongful death. In its defense, the nursing home focused on the alleged abuse by a nurse on the staff. The statements that were challenged in the appeal included testimony made by six nursing home staff members that residents, other unnamed employees, and an Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals surveyor told them that the nurse in question had been physically rough with and swore at residents.
The employees testifying did not actually witness any such incidents. They were only testifying about what someone else said (“hearsay”). 
The trial court admitted these statements, allegedly not for their truth, but in an attempt to show that abuse had been reported and there had not been any follow-up investigation. The appellate court stated that this was not a valid reason to admit inadmissible hearsay into evidence because the estate must prove that the conduct existed to prevent the jury from engaging in rampant speculation based on unreliable hearsay evidence.
People in today’s society, yes, even judges, often forget this basic principle of law. With all of the completely fabricated lies being put out as “news” on some news channels, Internet rumors running rampant, and politicians making egregiously false statements, it’s often hard to remember how to distinguish a fact from an unreliable rumor or hearsay.
This is one of the problems with hearsay. It is often just gossip and rumor, which change from person to person. Especially egregious conduct, criminal activity, and salacious acts become increasingly exaggerated with each retelling. The founding fathers in English and American law realized the inherently unreliable nature of such “evidence.”
Under the hearsay rule, the Court of Appeals agreed with the nursing home that the statements being challenged were inadmissible hearsay evidence that influenced the jury’s verdict. Due to this, the court reversed the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial. To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.
Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents health professionals and health facilities in civil and administrative litigation. We also represent physicians, nurses, and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, board hearings, inspections, and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board-certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.  We represent medical students, interns, resident physicians, and fellows in disputes with their graduate medical education (GME) programs.  We represent clinical professors and instructors in contract disputes, employment disputes, clinical privileges matters, and other disputes with their employers.  We often act as the physician’s personal counsel in medical malpractice litigation.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Source: 
About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with the health law firm. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Two Admins at a Veterans Home Criminally Charged For Mishandling Deadly COVID-19 Outbreak

George Indest Headshot

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified in Health Law

On September 25, 2020, two administrators at a Massachusetts veterans home were criminally charged with negligence for their role in a COVID-19 outbreak that killed 76 veterans. Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey reportedly stated that the criminal case involving Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke (SHH) is the first in the country against nursing home operators related to the pandemic.

Mishandling of the Coronavirus Outbreak.

The superintendent and the facility’s former medical director were indicted by a grand jury and charged with recklessly permitting bodily injury or abuse to the residents. The charges stem from their decision to combine two dementia units in March of 2020. They are accused of packing residents who were positive for the coronavirus into the same space as those with no symptoms. According to the AG, the decision contributed to the death of at least 76 residents at the facility.

The Investigation.

The AG’s Office began investigating in early April 2020 after learning of serious issues with COVID-19 infection control procedures at SHH. The investigation found that staffing shortages led to the decision to consolidate the two dementia units, totaling 42 residents. It resulted in confirmed COVID-19-positive residents being placed within feet of other veterans at the facility. The AG’s Office alleges that this decision was reckless from an infection control perspective and put the asymptomatic veterans at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 from the positive ones.

Since March 1, 2020, 76 veterans who contracted the coronavirus at SHH have died, officials said. Click here to read the Attorney General’s press release on the case.

To read about a similar case against a Florida nursing home, click here.

Contact a Health Law Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Veterans Administration (VA) Physician Representation and Military Physician Representation.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm have represented nursing home administrators, health care executives, nurses, nurse practitioners, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and health professionals working for the Veterans Administration (VA) throughout the United States. Representation has included personnel and employment issues, disciplinary action, investigations, peer review investigations, clinical privileges actions, fair hearings, National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) actions, and appeals.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Durkin, Alanna. “2 Charged Over Handling of Virus Outbreak at Veterans Home.” Associated Press. (September 25, 2020). Web.

Dowling, Bryan. “Mass. Vet Home Leaders Charged Over Deadly Virus Outbreak.” Law360. (September 25, 2020). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Two Administrators Charged With Negligence For Deadly COVID-19 Outbreak at Veterans Home

George Indest Headshot

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified in Health Law

On September 25, 2020, two administrators at a Massachusetts veterans home were criminally charged with negligence for their role in a COVID-19 outbreak that killed 76 veterans. Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey reportedly stated that the criminal case involving Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke (SHH) is the first in the country against nursing home operators related to the pandemic.

Mishandling of the Coronavirus Outbreak.

The superintendent and the facility’s former medical director were indicted by a grand jury and charged with recklessly permitting bodily injury or abuse to the residents. The charges stem from their decision to combine two dementia units in March of 2020. They are accused of packing residents who were positive for the coronavirus into the same space as those with no symptoms. According to the AG, the decision contributed to the death of at least 76 residents at the facility.

The Investigation.

The AG’s Office began investigating in early April 2020 after learning of serious issues with COVID-19 infection control procedures at SHH. The investigation found that staffing shortages led to the decision to consolidate the two dementia units, totaling 42 residents. It resulted in confirmed COVID-19-positive residents being placed within feet of other veterans at the facility. The AG’s Office alleges that this decision was reckless from an infection control perspective and put the asymptomatic veterans at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 from the positive ones.

Since March 1, 2020, 76 veterans who contracted the coronavirus at SHH have died, officials said. Click here to read the Attorney General’s press release on the case.

To read about a similar case against a Florida nursing home, click here.

Contact a Health Law Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Veterans Administration (VA) Physician Representation and Military Physician Representation.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm have represented nursing home administrators, health care executives, nurses, nurse practitioners, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and health professionals working for the Veterans Administration (VA) throughout the United States. Representation has included personnel and employment issues, disciplinary action, investigations, peer review investigations, clinical privileges actions, fair hearings, National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) actions, and appeals.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Durkin, Alanna. “2 Charged Over Handling of Virus Outbreak at Veterans Home.” Associated Press. (September 25, 2020). Web.

Dowling, Bryan. “Mass. Vet Home Leaders Charged Over Deadly Virus Outbreak.” Law360. (September 25, 2020). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Pennsylvania Nursing Home Settles Wrongful Death Suit, Agrees to Pay $800,000

Attorney George F. Indest III Headshot By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 21, 2017, the Devereux Foundation in Philadelphia, agreed to pay $800,000 to end a wrongful death suit against staff at The Devereux Pocono Center. The suit accused staff at the organization’s residential behavioral health facility in northeast Pennsylvania of failing to recognize symptoms of an infection in a developmentally disabled resident.

Details of the Wrongful Death Suit.

The family of Megan Ramsey, who died in the care of the Devereux Pocono Center in July 2014, asked a Pennsylvania federal judge to sign off on the settlement to end allegations that staff failed to detect symptoms of a perforated bowel and infection. According to court records, the patient had suffered from a rare genetic disorder known as Cornelia de Lange syndrome. Her symptoms included slow growth, small stature, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and issues with behavior and communication.

In July 2014, Ramsey complained of shoulder pain, a symptom of bowel perforation, according to the complaint. She was administered a pain reliever and observed to be uncharacteristically irritable and aggressive and was treated with doses of an anti-anxiety medication, the suit said. Ramsey asked staff members to be taken to the hospital. A residential manager at the facility, however, said only to monitor her closely, offer her fluids, and advise nursing staff of any worsening of her symptoms.

She was found dead the next morning.

The Settlement.

The patient’s family filed a pretrial memorandum in September 2017, in which investigations by state agencies resulted in findings of neglect, intentional or reckless failure to provide treatment, and intentional use of a chemical restraint or isolation.

The settlement of $800,000 includes fees for the plaintiff’s counsel of just under $267,000, the filing said. Click here to read the settlement in full.

To read one of my prior blogs about a similar case involving 14 deaths at a Florida nursing home, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Nursing Home Cases.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent nursing homes, nursing home employees, mental health facilities and mental health professionals, including psychologists, social workers and mental health counselors, in a number of different matters including incorporation, preparing contracts, defending the facility against malpractice claims, licensing and regulatory matters, administrative hearings, and routine legal advice.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Fair, Matt. “Pa. Nursing Home Settles Patient Death Suit.” Law360. (December 21, 2017). Web.

The Meyer Law Firm. “Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes.” NursingHomeAbuseGuide.org. (December 22, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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