When a resident of a nursing home does not receive the level of care to which he or she is entitled, the resident, or a family member acting on his or her behalf, can file a lawsuit in a court of law seeking money damages in compensation for the wrongful conduct. In such a suit, there may be several theories of liability, including ordinary negligence, medical malpractice, and breach of contract.
Depending upon the circumstances, other claims may also be possible. In a recent case, the intermediate appellate court in Kentucky was asked to address a trial court’s dismissal of some of the claims brought against a nursing home and others. The Kentucky nursing home lawsuit was filed by the executor of the deceased woman’s estate.
Facts of the Case
In the case of Puckett v. Salyersville Healthcare Center, the plaintiff was the administrator of the estate of a woman who had been a resident of a nursing home before her death in May 2007. According to the plaintiff’s complaint against the defendants, the resident had suffered falls, a fracture, bruises, malnourishment, skin tears, dehydration, pneumonia, and a lacerated liver during her stay at the home. The administratrix brought suit in the Magoffin County Circuit Court, alleging negligence, medical negligence, violations of the statutes governing Long Term Care Resident’s Rights statutes, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and violations of various state, federal, and local laws and regulations pertaining to long-term care facilities.
The defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the estate administrator’s claims of negligence per se. The defendants asserted that the claims of violations of state and federal certification laws were not independently actionable as negligence per se pursuant to the provisions of Kentucky Rev. Stat. § 446.070 because the specific remedy provision of Kentucky Rev. Stat. § 216.515(26) foreclosed such claims. The estate administrator responded that she had not alleged any negligence per se claims based on violations of the resident’s rights set forth in § 216.515. Instead, she had advanced such claims for state regulatory violations relating to health care facilities. But the trial court granted the defendants’ motion.
On Appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeal
The executrix appealed the trial court’s order, and the appellate court affirmed. Since the “any statute” provision of § 446.070 has been limited by case law to Kentucky statutes, any of the executrix’s claims as to violations of any federal statute or regulation failed as a matter of law. As to her claims under state law, the enumeration of specific rights enforceable via § 216.515(26) precluded a negligence per se action to enforce the broader provisions.
The court rejected the estate administrator’s argument that the trial court had erred in holding that the federal and state statutes were inadmissible as evidence of the standard of care in a common-law negligence claim. The court observed that the trial court’s order made no mention of evidentiary issues, and therefore the appeals court was prohibited from considering such issues on appeal.
For Advice Concerning a Kentucky Nursing Home Case
If you suspect your loved one has been mistreated, abused, or neglected while confined to a nursing home, long-term care facility, or assisted living center, call the nursing home negligence lawyers at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley at (270) 781-6500 to schedule an appointment. Our Bowling Green injury attorneys represent clients throughout Kentucky and Tennessee, including in Brownsville, Springfield, and Morgantown.
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