Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Group forms to oppose effort to protect nursing homes from lawsuits

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 1:14 PM

MARTHA DEAVER: Opposing nursing home amendment to limit damages for negligence.
  • MARTHA DEAVER: Opposing nursing home amendment to limit damages for negligence.
A group has formed to oppose the proposed constitutional amendment — backed primarily by nursing home money — to set a severe limit on damage awards and attorney fees in cases of abuse and negligence in nursing homes and other medical facilities.

A group backed by nursing home money has submitted petitions to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to limit non-economic damages in such case to $250,000, no matter the pain and suffering or degree of malpractice.  Attorney fees would be limited to a third of the damages, after costs. As a practical matter, it would discourage most lawsuits, given the time it typically takes to bring a case against medical institutions.

Today's news release:

On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect AR Families filed paperwork to protect Arkansans from nursing home abuse. Specifically, the committee will lead the fight to disqualify and/or defeat the misguided attempt to amend the state’s constitution, led by the so-called “Health Care Access for Arkansans” committee. This amendment will not only take away a constitutional right but also place an arbitrary $250,000 value on all human life and will impact not just nursing home residents, but all of our family members including our parents, wives, husbands, children and grandchildren.

The Committee to Protect AR Families was launched by Martha Deaver and Adam Jegley and is expected to expand to include numerous other concerned Arkansas residents.

Statement from Martha Deaver:

This proposed amendment is an attempt by special interest lobbyists and corporate nursing home owner Michael Morton to protect his bottom line at the expense of our family members who are trusted into their care. For many years I have fought each and everyday to give nursing home residents and their families the peace of mind that their loved ones will be given the highest quality of care available. Furthermore, this is an attack on our justice system and will protect the people who neglect our elderly family members. 
Deaver is a long-time advocate for better care in nursing homes and president of the Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents. Jegley has experience in field campaign work.

The paperwork on the new group is not yet available on-line. I'm trying to find a copy to see if it reports any initial financial contributions. Trial lawyers could be expected to support this effort, including with money, but they also will be seeking to avoid making this appear to be a fight between lawyers and nursing homes. The nursing home amendment petitions are under review by the secretary of state currently for suffiiency. If the measure makes the ballot, it would go to a vote in November.

UPDATE: The organizational papers list a PO box for the organization and leaders including Deaver, Jegley and Jeremy Cobb of Little Rock, an accountant. There's no reporting of financial backing as yet. The group indicates it will start by attempting to fight the certification of the amendment to the ballot.

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