Uninsured Nursing Homes a Growing Problem

In the 10 years since I took my first case against a nursing home for elder abuse, I have seen a growing number of homes going without liability insurance. While the uninsured problem used to be confined to the small mom-and-pop assisted living facilities with 6 to 12 beds, now I am seeing in large, institutional-type skilled nursing facilities. On Friday, the Oakland Tribune did an excellent article on this problem.

The article profiles the story of 39-year-old Grover Brown, a multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s patient with paraplegia. Brown was a resident of High Street Care Center in East Oakland. High Street is owned by Trinity Health Systems, whose president, Randal Kleis, has operated about a dozen facilities all over California under several corporate names.

While in the care of High Street, Brown developed a pressure ulcer on his coccyx, which, due to neglect, worsened to the point that doctors were required to remove his tailbone to curtail the deep infection. Brown and his family hired an elder abuse attorney, who sued High Street for abuse and neglect under California’s elder abuse laws, which also protect “dependent adults” like Brown.

But, as the story points out, Brown will not likely see any big settlements for his avoidable suffering. High Street carries no liability insurance, and the corporate ownership structure is set up in such a way that makes it very difficult to pursue the owners for the treatment Brown received. The government will end up picking up the tab for the expensive medical care Brown received, and the owner will continue operating substandard facilities with impunity. It’s an ugly cycle that those of us who prosecute nursing home and assisted living facilities see all the time.

There is a fledgling movement to enact a law requiring that nursing homes carry liability insurance, but any action seems a long way away. There is a moral component at work here. AARP spokesman Mark Beach said every responsible business should have liability insurance, particularly those businesses that care for the most vulnerable among us. Having insurance “is the right thing to do,” said Beach.

To read the entire Oakland Tribune story click here.

The attorneys at the Walton Law Firm represent seniors and dependent adults who have suffered neglect or abuse nursing home, residential care, or board-and-care setting. Cases are taken in all Southern California counties, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego. For a free and confidential consultation call (866) 607-1325.