Court Improperly Failed to Allow Nursing Home Plaintiff to Name Additional Defendants Later Discovered to Be Involved in Key Decision-Making Roles

Earlier this month, an Oklahoma court issued an opinion in a case brought by the surviving family members of a woman who died in a nursing home while in the defendants’ control. The case, Maree v. Neuwirth, involved the plaintiffs’ decision to add additional defendants to the lawsuit after they discovered that these parties may have had a key role in the decision-making leading up to their loved one’s death. The court hearing the case held that it was improper for the lower court to deny the plaintiffs the ability to add these defendants.

The Facts of the Case

Back in January 2011, the elderly loved one of the plaintiffs fell while a resident at the defendant nursing home. Two days later, she died in the hospital. It was alleged that the elderly woman’s injuries were worsened because nursing home staff failed to respond to a “call light” in a timely manner.

The woman’s loved ones filed a lawsuit against the nursing home about two years after the alleged act of negligence. Initially, the lawsuit was filed against most of the nursing home’s management, as well as against the nursing home itself.

Two years after the lawsuit was filed, and after the statute of limitations had passed, the plaintiffs learned that there were other parties who may have also been involved in the daily decision-making activities in the nursing home at the time when their loved one’s injury occurred. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that these newly discovered parties assisted in staffing, training, and personnel decisions. Additionally, these parties helped create the nursing home’s directives regarding medical and other care decisions. The plaintiffs asked the court to allow them to add these additional defendants. However, the court refused.

The Appellate Court’s Opinion

The appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision, not because it was incorrect under the law, but because the lower court failed to engage in the proper analysis when analyzing the plaintiffs’ request. The court explained that since the statute of limitations had run, the amendment to the complaint would only be allowed if it were to “relate back” to the time when the complaint was filed. However, the lower court failed to engage in any of the relation-back analysis. Thus, the case was remanded back to the lower court to conduct this analysis.

Have You Been the Victim of Poor Care at a Maryland Nursing Home?

If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of nursing home negligence or nursing home abuse in a Maryland nursing home, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, as you can see from the discussion above, these cases are bound by strict procedural rules and are not easily navigable by those unfamiliar with the specific laws at issue. To learn more about your claim, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Court Finds Nursing Home Facility Waived Its Right to Seek Mediation in Wrongful Death Case, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published June 7, 2016.

Nursing Home Resident Dies After Being Left Outside in the Sun, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published May 13, 2016.

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