How One Grieving Loved One Fought a Nursing Home - and Won
When Lindsay Matthews saw her father at Infirmary Medical Center on January 21, 2015, she was shocked, horrified…and heartbroken.
Within a few short weeks, he had lost 40 pounds and developed aspiration pneumonia. He had entered the nursing home in November 2014 with dementia, but physically in very good shape—a rather healthy 69-year-old man who required very little assistance.
Within weeks his health had deteriorated to the point where he was feverish, severely dehydrated, and malnourished. When found unresponsive and incoherent at the nursing home on the 21st, he was admitted to the hospital.
Sadly, that’s where he passed away two days later, leaving his daughter in pain.
The Search for Justice: Getting Representation
Consumed with grief, Lindsay was determined to find answers, but neither the nursing home nor the hospital had any to give. In Lindsay’s words, “I felt like something had happened. I felt like something was very, very wrong. I saw my dad one week and then I saw him again just weeks later and he was emaciated and on death’s door. This should not have happened. No one should have ever been treated in this way. I walked away from this thinking that my dad had just kind of fallen off the cliff, and no one could tell me why.”
One of Lindsay’s best friends was an attorney, so Lindsay turned to her for help in finding answers. This friend and her law partners recommended that Lindsay speak to Hare, Wynn, Newell and Newton, telling her that we had considerable expertise in handling nursing home neglect cases, that we had established a niche for ourselves in dealing with similar types of situations, and that we would be the very best firm to handle her case.
Lindsay then decided to come to us for help, and that’s when we met.
Getting Justice for Lindsay
When I heard Lindsay’s story, my heart went out to her. I’ve handled a lot of nursing home abuse cases, and there’s usually a common theme: loss and a betrayal of trust. Loss is always hard to deal with even in the best of circumstances – but when someone else could be responsible for a loss that didn’t have to happen, it hurts even more. Nursing homes are in business and profit from representing to families that they are staffed, experienced and equipped to meet the total needs of the residents. That is what they are paid to do. Families put their faith and trust in the nursing home to provide for the total needs of their loved one. To find out later that their mother, father, sibling or friend was treated badly, neglected or abused at the hands of those entrusted to their care can be devastating.
Lindsay explains, “I wanted the very best. I didn’t want a run-of-the-mill firm that would just take my case and do whatever they wanted with it. I had worked in nursing homes before, so I knew that there are firms that will just go through the motions of filing something—for the sake of filing—but their heart is not in it and the nursing homes just don’t take them seriously. I knew that it was going to take a big name for people to take this case seriously, and once I heard their name and had researched them, I could quickly see that these were the only people who could take on this case and find the answers for me that I needed.”
When Hare Wynn decided to take the case, Lindsay began to have a glimmer of hope. She found herself comforted and encouraged—no small task considering how she had suffered such a great loss. She dealt directly with Brittany Wilson and me, who lead a team handling many of the firm’s nursing home neglect cases.
Lindsay says, “Brittany, Matt, and the firm really welcomed me into the entire process; they did not shut me out. They were upfront, realistic, and honest with me, and told me that this could end up being quite a long process—and it would not be easy. They always kept me informed, and I knew what was going on at all times. They knew Dad—every aspect of his life—and they cared about him. He was never a number to them and I was never a number to them. They were just amazing. There is just no other way to put it. Sometimes the information we needed just seemed to take forever, or we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, but they didn’t give up, they did not stop. The momentum they kept up with the case was just remarkable.”
There were many obstacles we encountered, but the right firm will always find a way around them—often those very obstacles will become critical turning points of the case. That is what Brittany and I told her from the very beginning, and that is exactly what happened.
Lindsay explains, “Matt was certain there had been negligence and he was determined to prove it. He would just not back down and he was relentless. Because of that, we were miraculously able to get key witnesses and physicians that provided care for my Dad in the emergency room to come forward and tell the truth about what occurred, even though those witnesses were affiliated with the group that provided care at the nursing home. The case seemed to turn completely in our favor because of this.”
Once we had confirmed the negligence and gathered the proof to support it, we drafted a demand letter to the nursing home outlining what we believed to have happened to Lindsay’s father, and what the implications/repercussions of those actions were with regard to the law.
Subsequently, a mediation was conducted, and on December 2, 2016, a settlement was reached.
Finding the Right Nursing Home Abuse Firm
Lindsay believes the only reason the nursing home and its attorneys took this case seriously, and that she was able to receive the settlement she did, was because of our firm’s reputation, experience, and dedication to her father’s case.
She has this to say about the mediation process: “Matt, again, was very realistic and upfront with me in the weeks prior to mediation. He walked me through every step and what to expect. He gave me peace of mind that he would be there and that he would handle it all for me—he was a wonderful counselor. I think his name and the firm’s name just holds so much weight with the other attorneys that it made the whole experience easy. Matt, Brittany, and the firm exceeded any expectation I could ever have had going into this. When I try to describe how many ways they helped me, I am almost speechless.”
Lindsay stresses the critical importance of selecting the right firm—one you can trust—with these words: “I trusted Hare Wynn from the moment I first spoke with them. I don’t think you could go into this process and not trust the people who are fighting for you. You really only have one chance to get it right or you are finished before you even start. You have to have somebody who says, ‘We are going to fight for you, and we will not give up, no matter how long it takes.’ I consider Brittany and Matt not only my advocates throughout the process, but also lifelong friends who made sure they gave me a peace that no one else could. They never let me down. They will always hold a very special place within my heart.”
To more fully express her gratitude, Lindsay recently sent an email to Brittany and me, which read:
“All I ever wanted was justice for my dad and peace knowing I fought hard for him. I know that without the weight that the firm’s name carries, and without Matt’s reputation, the settlement I received would not have been possible. I am so thankful to both of you for helping me get to a point of peace—something I haven’t felt since he passed away. I believe God calls people to certain jobs and you both are doing what He called you to do. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you for not giving up, for always being honest and being realistic with me. I am forever grateful.”
It’s always our honor to work with clients like Lindsay who have suffered harm through no fault of her own. Nothing we can do can bring back her father, but hopefully, what we did to hold that nursing home accountable will send a message to that and other nursing homes – a message that could hopefully prevent further abuses and deaths.
Justice today means lives saved tomorrow. Lindsay’s case will hopefully inspire others to ask questions and, if necessary, take action and help hold nursing homes accountable for the loved ones under their care.