Veteran’s access to justice denied after losing both his legs in a nursing home
Horace was a veteran of World War II. When Horace was placed in his local veteran’s nursing home in Alexander City, Alabama, little did he know that his problems were just beginning - not only because of the care he would receive but also because of the danger lurking in the fine print of his admission papers.
Horace developed a sore on his right foot that worsened and began spreading up his leg. Eventually, this infection turned gangrenous and Horace’s entire right leg had to be amputated to save his life. The nursing home never reported the sore or amputation to state health authorities.
As a result of the amputation, Horace needed a lift to move him into and out of bed. Despite this medical necessity, nursing home staffers tried to cut corners and lift him out of the bed manually. Tragically, staff dropped him in the process, and severely fractured his left leg. Because surgery for the repair of this break was not possible, his left leg was also amputated- less than two years after the loss of his right leg.
When Horace’s family tried to hold his nursing home accountable in court for this horrific treatment, the nursing home used a clause buried in the fine print of Horace’s admission papers to force them out of court and into them into a secretive and rigged arbitration system. At forced arbitration, to try to explain away Horace’s injuries, the nursing home management conducted a “reenactment” of the incident in a failed attempt to claim a lift was used.
And though the nursing home was finally found to be at fault for the loss of Horace’s leg and given that false account of the incident, the arbitrator awarded an unjustly small sum of money to Horace’s family, knowing he would never be held to account by appellate review.
If nursing homes are allowed to get away with the worst, and then force their injured, veteran patients into arbitration, are our loved ones safe?