One of the most significant hurdles Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect cases face early in the process is overcoming a defense motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is a mechanism by which either party – although very often the defense in personal injury cases – asks the court to resolve the case because the other party cannot legally win the case based on the evidence presented.
A nursing home abuse or neglect plaintiff can overcome a defense motion for summary judgment by showing that there is some issue of material fact that should be resolved by a jury. However, if no issues of fact are present – and the only issues are legal in nature – the court will enter summary judgment in favor of the moving party. A recent case illustrates how one trial court applied the summary judgment standard incorrectly.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of an elderly woman who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. The resident was admitted to the nursing home in March 2012 after being discharged from the hospital. Upon admission, the resident suffered from severe pulmonary and kidney conditions. Initially, the resident showed signs of improvement; however, about two months after her admission, the resident’s health began to decline due to a septic infection. The resident died from complications relating to the infection a short time later.
The resident’s family filed a nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit, arguing that the nursing home knew about their loved one’s conditions but failed to take the appropriate actions. The case was filed under the Adult Protective Services Act, which permits recovery when a caregiver abuses or neglects a resident who is incapacitated.
At trial, the court determined that the resident’s injuries had nothing to do with her incapacitation and were caused by the septic infection. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the defense. The plaintiffs appealed to a higher court, which reversed that decision.
The higher court explained that in situations in which a resident has multiple health issues, it is difficult to determine whether the abuse or neglect was due to a resident’s incapacitation. Thus, the court abandoned that test in favor of the simpler requirement that the plaintiffs merely show that their loved one was incapacitated, removing the requirement that the injury be related to the incapacitation. As a result, the case was remanded to the lower court for further deliberation.
Has Your Loved One Suffered in a Maryland Nursing Home?
If you have a loved one in a Maryland nursing home, and you believe that they may have been a victim of abuse or neglect, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated attorneys at the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience assisting the families of nursing home residents with righting the wrongs that have been committed against their loved ones. We have been holding negligent and abusive nursing homes responsible for their actions for years, and we know how to successfully bring nursing home abuse and neglect cases in Maryland courts. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
The Presence of Hidden Cameras in Nursing Homes Is Resulting in Increased Transparency, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published June 28, 2017.
Family Sues Nursing Home After Failing to Revive Resident for Over 30 Minutes, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published July 14, 2017.