Schmidt Kramer Partner and Pennsylvania Association for Justice President Scott B. Cooper responded to an "elder law" abuse column in the Carlisle Sentinel recently. Below is his letter to the Editor as well as a link to the letter.
While his first sentence makes it is clear that Attorney Dave Nesbitt’s main concern in his Feb. 5 “Elder Law” column on page C1 of The Sentinel is to prevent the poaching of potential clients by “firms that are not based in south-central Pennsylvania,” the path he promotes is not appropriate for all cases and could harm veterans’ rights.
We all agree our seniors deserve to be treated with respect and care. While the litigation waiting six-month period his firm utilizes may work for some, it is a bad idea for others and unworkable for another group who deserve our respect: veterans. Under federal tort claims notice requirements, if an attorney waits six months to file suit for someone injured in a VA nursing facility, they’ve committed legal malpractice. In a state like Pennsylvania, with a strong history of military service, Nesbitt’s advice is simply wrong.
Moreover, the study he cites, which found that “the amount of litigation was not significantly lower for those nursing homes which the data suggested provided better care than for other homes with less-favorable qualitative data,” does not support his argument that lawsuits do not improve care. Whether one facility was sued has nothing to do with whether another is providing quality care. What should be looked at is whether, after being sued, a health care provider improved the quality of care.
While I do not practice elder care law, protecting the physical safety of a senior is of paramount concern. It is a fact that legal action, or even the threat of legal action, is sometimes needed to protect our elders and their rights.
Scott Cooper, Esq.
Association for Justice