• +1 305 670 4455
  • Email Us

Lawsuits Filed in Case Involving Florida Nursing Home Deaths

  • Lawsuits Filed in Case Involving Florida Nursing Home Deaths

    Lawsuits Filed in Case Involving Florida Nursing Home Deaths

    The first court case involving eight elderly residents who died inside a Florida nursing home after Hurricane Irma is now underway. A Miami law firm filed a complaint in the Broward Circuit Court on behalf of Albertina Vega, a 99-year-old woman who died. The case alleges that the staff of the nursing home did not take proper steps after the hurricane passed through and failed to notify authorities and emergency responders of any potential dangers.
    The attorneys prosecuting the case say that the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills only prepared a few portable air coolers to ventilate a total of 81,000 square feet, a potential cause of Vega’s death, and that staff waited days to ask for an evacuation. The attorneys are also asking the circuit court to place an emergency order on the center and protect any relevant records that may be within. Other attorneys have also come forward to say that they are looking at prosecutions from other families who suffered in this event
    Florida Governor Rick Scott has stated that a state criminal investigation is underway, and barred any new patients from being accepted to the facility. In a statement, the rehabilitation center have said that they are “cooperating fully with relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate and tragic outcome.”
    The nursing home’s owner is also under scrutiny for previously settling accusations of heath care fraud, and the center has been cited for safety concerns in the past.
    The criminal case will concern the question of whether the center and its staff are guilty of culpable negligence, defined as conduct exhibiting a disregard for human life or engaging in wanton or reckless behavior. However, any civil liability will concern negligence under Florida law. The nursing home’s defense will rest on arguing that other health issues were a cause of death, instead of external conditions at the facility. They could also argue on that idea that the hurricane was an “act of God,” or something that could not have been stopped by humans. However, this defense may fail given that the residents died a few days after the hurricane passed through and any residual damage or effects, such as loss of power and air-conditioning, are foreseeable.