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Do you want a jury trial for nursing home neglect?

Posted on Jul 10, 2014

Earlier today, the Superior Court in Pennsylvania decided a case about whether arbitration was the only option in a nursing home neglect case.

The facts are very specific, and if you are considering taking action because a loved one has been injured due to nursing home neglect, may I first advise you to call us to discuss rather than using your own judgment to determine how this decision might affect your situation.

A man died following “care” in a nursing home. His brother represented his estate.  This is key, because the court found that a brother does not have rights under the wrongful death statute in Pennsylvania. Ok. Jump back. You need a bit more information.

In Pennsylvania, there are two potential claims following death. One is called a survival action which is basically the continuing right of a deceased person to bring suit after they passed away, and had been injured by another’s negligence prior to their death. If the negligence of another person also resulted in their death, then a claim called, wrongful death, may also be brought. This is a claim created by laws passed by the legislature in our Commonwealth. There are only specific listed beneficiaries of this claim. This is why the brother is key to the decision. The Court noted the wrongful death statute does not include the brother as the beneficiary, and therefore he could not bring the action.

Remember the whole point of this case, was for ManorCare to get this case into arbitration it chose, and a very sick man agreed to when he came to their long term care facility. It doesn’t mean that there is no case, just that this family has a more difficult time because they cannot bring the case to a jury of their peers.

This new opinion does not apply when a spouse or a child of a person who dies due to nursing home neglect wants to bring a case, and be the administrator of the estate.

At Schmidt Kramer, we are willing to discuss your potential nursing home case. We will help you evaluate whether your case would be in front of a jury or a panel of arbitrators. If your case ends up in front of a jury or in front of a panel of lawyers, we will fight for the best result in your case.