The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the right for citizens to sue for civil rights violations at nursing homes. This monumental decision is crucial for nursing home residents, their loved ones, people with disabilities, and those protected by the Civil Rights Act. Continue reading to learn why this decision is so significant and the legal rights individuals may be entitled to.
Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski
In 2019, Ivanka Talevski filed a lawsuit on behalf of her late husband Gorgi Talevski against Valparaiso Care and Rehabilitation, American Senior Communities, LLC, and the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County. According to the claim Mr. Talevski was admitted to the Valparaiso Care facility in August 2016 but his health began to decline rapidly. His wife noticed an extreme drop in appetite and that her husband lost a significant amount of cognitive ability.
When Mrs. Talevski raised her concerns with the facility’s caretakers but was told that her husband’s dementia was advancing faster than anticipated. By September, she had become suspicious and requested a list of her husband’s medications. Among the medications were mood-altering drugs that could have contributed to the startling decline in Mr. Talevski’s health.
By the end of 2016, Valparaiso Care attempted to move Mr. Talevski to a memory care facility more than two hours away without his consent. An administrative law judge stopped the process, but Talevski never returned to Valparaiso Care as a patient.
In the claim, Talevski alleged that the nursing home facility violated the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) which is part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 ( OBRA). The Nursing Home Reform Act is a law passed in the United States in 1987 to protect the rights of elderly residents living in nursing homes. The basic objective of the NHRA is to ensure that residents of nursing homes receive quality care that will result in their achieving or maintaining the “highest practicable” physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being. It sets out several minimum standards of care and rights for people living in nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, including the right to be free from abuse and neglect, the right to privacy and dignity, and the right to participate in their own care. The law also requires nursing homes to provide adequate staffing levels, quality care services, and access to necessary medical and nursing services.
The Nursing Home Reform Act has been instrumental in improving the quality of life for elderly residents living in nursing homes across the country. It has helped ensure that they receive appropriate care and respect while living in these facilities. Additionally, it has increased transparency within nursing home operations by requiring them to report on their performance regularly.
Dismissal and Appeal
This case was dismissed in lower courts based on the idea that NHRA does not allow for a valid lawsuit. The case was appealed in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on the idea that the issue at hand is: did the care facility violate Mr. Talevski’s rights.
This decision is significant because it sets a precedent for patients and their families who may be facing civil rights violations in long term care facilities. Not only does it reaffirm the rights of those residents receiving nursing and medical care, but it also empowers representatives and loved ones to continue to advocate for them through private legal action, as the Court held that these residents rights can be a basis for a tort claim.
It is important to note that while this decision does give individuals more legitimacy, filing a lawsuit is complex and should only be done under the guidance of a legal professional. If you believe you have grounds for a case, contact E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy.