Extendicare Health Services, Inc., a company that operates 21 nursing home facilities in Kentucky, recently announced that it will be leaving the state. Why? Because this chronically negligent company wants a free pass from liability to people who are injured, maimed or killed due to its negligence.
Kentucky lawmakers correctly refused to grant Extendicare immunity (protection from being sued) for its negligent care of its elderly and infirm residents. The company is currently facing five wrongful death lawsuits and one negligent care suit alleging substandard care at the Kenwood Health and Rehabilitation Center, one of its Kentucky centers. Based on the company’s history, the number of suits will most likely increase if Extendicare remains in Kentucky; this horribly inept company has at least 43 civil lawsuits pending, all filed since 2009.
Extendicare was hoping for a corporate bailout with HB361, a bill that would have required personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against nursing homes to be reviewed by a medical panel to determine whether innocent victims and their families would be permitted to go to court and seek compensation for serious harm. When lawmakers said no, Extendicare decided to leave. Lawsuit Financial says: Let them leave! Who wants a serially negligent nursing home operator in their state? Who wants nursing homes that injure, maim, and kill our elderly?
This seems to be Extendicare's MO. The company pulled the same vanishing act in Florida, ceasing operations in 2001, when it could not get its legislative way. In Florida (like Kentucky, one of the most tort-reformed states in the union), Extendicare pulled up its stakes after a lawsuit in which a jury awarded the plaintiff $3 million in compensatory damages and $17 million in punitive damages. Later that same year, Extendicare sold off all nursing centers in Texas (perhaps the most tort-reformed state in the country), for similar reasons. Now, the company is leaving Kentucky because it does not want to be held accountable. These guys are like the playground kid who takes his ball and bat home because he didn't get picked soon enough.
What nerve this company has! Extendicare has the audacity to provide repetitively negligent care, nationwide, and when it can’t get a corporate bailout at the expense of the people it injures, maims, and kills (at considerable taxpayer expense) it takes it's bats and balls and leaves the playground. Extendicare wants the TAXPAYERS of the state in which it injures, maims, and kills residents to pick up the tab for its mistakes. The Kentucky legislature did the right thing and held the exit door open for them. "See ya; wouldn't want to be treated by ya"!
When quality care and safety are not prioritized, someone is seriously injured or dies. One of our greatest protections from repeat behavior by a single offender is a lawsuit or the threat of one. Yet, big businesses like Extendicare and insurance companies spend millions of dollars trying to convince the American people that the justice system is the problem and not their serial negligence. In this case, the verdict is in: Extendicare is GUILTY. It has already fled three heavily tort reformed states because profits are more important than quality care and safety protocol for its residents. Vegas should set odds for which state Extendicare will leave next! Hundreds of nursing homes safely and successfully operate across this country, many without significant litigation histories. Nursing homes have continued to thrive in Florida and Texas since Extendicare bailed out; others will prosper and provide quality care in Kentucky.
So, Extendicare, please leave Kentucky, but tell the truth. Don't blame your troubles on lawyers, lawsuits, or the Kentucky legislature. Extendicare couldn't even thrive in Rick Perry's Texas, the poster child of states that protect negligent corporations against those that they injure and kill. The company wants to continue to commit heinous acts on its residents and be handed the civil justice equivalent of a "get-out-of-jail-free card". It has the audacity to commit negligent act upon negligent act and then ask legislators to grant it immunity.
Many people think that restrictions on a citizen's right to sue a wrongdoer like Extendicare are a good thing. Those who feel that way have probably never suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one to a corporate wrongdoer. We don't need arbitrary damages caps for someone else's pain or suffering; we have juries to make these decisions based on the merits of each case. Extendicare should focus its efforts on providing quality patient care, thus avoiding lawsuits completely. Focus on safety instead of making it harder for innocent victims to seek compensation and refusing to operate in states that don’t promote your greedy tactics. Do that; practice that and you would not be faced with 43 lawsuits. How difficult is that to understand?
So, knowing how this company operates, knowing that it prefers to continue its negligent ways, knowing that its protocol is to leave rather than correcting its bad behavior, which state legislator would like to invite Extendicare to set up shop in his/her state? If any legislator extends such an invitation, make it a point to vote that person out of office.
Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice and Public Citizen, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Experienced attorney, lawsuit funding expert, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series. The series features super-trial lawyer Zachary Blake handling "ripped from the headlines" legal and political issues of the day. The series currently consists of Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, and Betrayal High, with a sixth Zachary Blake novel due out later this year. To learn more about these topical social justice legal thrillers. please visit markmbello.com. Mark is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.