In Pennsylvania there is a move to cut punitive damages in cases where abused residents try to fight back against the greed of nursing home companies. An article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, and here is the Answer from Schmidt Kramer's own Scott Cooper, who is serving as the President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice (Pa. Trial Lawyers).
Damage limits worrisome
In the article "Nursing Homes' Bid for Law to Limit Punitive Damages Stalls in Harrisburg," July 3, representatives of the nursing home industry seriously misstate the facts about lawsuits filed against them in an effort to lessen legal protections for the seniors and vulnerable entrusted to their care.
Although they are rarely awarded under current law, it is the threat of punitive damages that helps increase safety in every industry, including in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Making the legislation worse, the Pennsylvania House stripped from the bill a provision that would have at least allowed punitive damages if there were evidence of illegality — including inadequate staffing, training and oversight.
As it is, too many for-profit nursing homes place their profits ahead of safety. Passage of limits on punitive damages would give them virtual immunity from being held responsible for that decision.
Scott B. Cooper, Esquire.