Philadelphia Nursing Home an Example of How Administration Profits From Elder Abuse

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St. Francis Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care

A former manager has pleaded no contest to the charge of recklessly endangering residents at the Darby Nursing Home known as the St. Francis Center for Rehabilitation & Health Care. The misdemeanor charges were filed after the state Health Department completed an inspection that found severe neglect of patients in the home, including one patient with “wounds that went down to the bone with exposed tendon”.

This may seem like an outlying case, but unfortunately, nursing home administrations often profit by neglecting and abusing the elders who are in their care, making this kind of situation horrifically common. At McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt, we have years of experience bringing nursing home administrators and owners to justice after instances of neglect and abuse. We can help you successfully file a claim if your loved one has suffered due to negligence or malpractice while living in a nursing home or long-term care facility.

 

What Happened at St. Francis Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care?

In September of 2017, The PA state Health Department took the extraordinary step of revoking the center’s license and installing a temporary manager at St. Francis after an inspection found multiple instances of negligence, and immediately removed manager Chaim “Charlie” Steg.

The Health Departments inspection was prompted by five complaints. The inspection itself found multiple issues at the facility, including:

Three residents tragically died in the facility due to these types of abuse and neglect. These issues began at St. Francis shortly after staffing was severely cut back under manager Charlie Steg. 

 

Why Was St. Francis Understaffed?

St. Francis was majority owned by Charles-Edouard Gros, who bought St. Francis along with seven other nursing homes in 2014. Gros operated under the umbrella of Center Management Group, who used Charlie Steg as their regional director of operations. Center Management had previously paid fines to state and federal authorities related to neglect. 

A 2018 analysis done by the Philadelphia Inquirer showed that staffing at all facilities purchased by Gros fell sharply after his takeover, while his profits soared. Gros reduced the amount of care provided by registered nurses by 29% at St. Francis by cutting hours for nurses. The number of registered nurses at the facility fell by almost half after the facility was purchased by Gros. Numerous studies have shown that the presence of registered nurses is one of the key elements to providing high-quality care in nursing homes. 

Photo by Sabine van Erp via Pixabay

Is Elder Mistreatment More Common in For-Profit Nursing Homes? 

Despite all this, Gros has yet to face any criminal charges, with only manager Charlie Steg facing penalties. Attorney General Josh Shapiro has stated that  “We filed criminal charges where they were warranted. We held the establishment accountable to the best of our ability.” So why is it so difficult to file charges against the owners of facilities that commit gross acts of negligence?

The answer lies in the complicated legality of for-profit nursing homes. Nearly 70% of the nursing homes in the United States are owned by for-profit companies that often change hands. Who actually owns a nursing home can then become a convoluted question. 

 

How To Hold Negligent Nursing Homes Accountable

For-profit nursing homes can change owners multiple times in a single week, and often have management and ownership structures that are purposefully complex in order to obscure who is responsible for delivering care – and who is ultimately responsible when major issues arise. In fact, the charges against Steg are believed to be the first criminal reckless endangerment charges based on inadequate staffing levels and practices in a nursing facility in Pennsylvania. 

The experienced team at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt know how to navigate the complex legal issues surrounding liability in cases of nursing home abuse and neglect. If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at a nursing home, contact us today for a free consultation, and we can help you hold the responsible parties accountable. We can be reached at 1-866-690-2848 or by filling out our form here.

 

 

 

Deadly Paraquat: Safety Measures Were Falsified To Keep the Herbicide on the Market

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Syngenta, an agrochemical manufacturer that sells pesticides worldwide, is now in the center of a legal firestorm. This comes after leaked documents, and the testimony of a company insider, revealed deadly secrets the company has long struggled to keep hidden. 

Greenpeace released a devastating takedown of Syngenta in their report titled “The Paraquat Papers”, which was published on March 24th 2021. Paraquat, sold under the brand name Gramoxone, is a Syngenta pesticide that has long been banned in numerous countries after claiming tens of thousands of lives, but is still used widely in the United States as a pesticide. The Paraquat Papers alleges that Syngenta knowingly used manipulated data to prove to US regulators that paraquat is safe for use. 

 

What Is Paraquat and Why Is It So Deadly?

Paraquat has been sold in the United States since 1964, and is used to kill weeds and grasses before planting. Paraquat is so toxic that consuming only a single tablespoon is enough to be fatal. Unfortunately, it has been consumed accidentally, and intentionally, thousands of times since its introduction in the 1960s.

Paraquat is now banned in more than 50 countries around the globe due to its deadly nature. Yet this dangerous chemical remains available for sale in the United States to this day. This is in large part because Syngenta convinced regulators they had come up with a way to make paraquat safe.

Why Is Paraquat Still Sold in the United States?

Syngenta added an emetic to paraquat in the 1970s. This is a chemical that will induce vomiting if swallowed. By adding the emetic, Syngenta stated that individuals who accidentally or purposefully drank paraquat would immediately vomit up the toxin, saving lives. The emetic added to paraquat was codenamed PP796.

The only problem? Newly uncovered documents reveal that PP796 never worked. What’s worse, is that Syngenta knew this, and still continued to tout their products’ safety. In fact, Syngenta had its concentration of PP796 declared the global standard for all paraquat-based weed killers via the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – a standard that is still in place today. 

 

Fabricated Data

John Heylings worked for Syngenta for 22 years, and has been trying to warn consumers and the company about the ineffectiveness of PP796 for years now. Heyling states that paraquat contains far too little PP796 for it to properly work as an emetic before the victim is killed by the pesticide, even for those who swallow the minimum lethal dose. 

Heylings also alleges that the concentrations that Syngenta uses are based on a report that was fabricated back in 1976, using data that was manipulated. The fabricated data claimed humans were 10 times more sensitive to PP796 than animal test subjects, instead of using the actual doses given to the animal test subjects as a reliable indicator. 

Paraquat and Parkinson’s

Heyling brought this information to Syngenta in 1990, but the company ignored him. In 2018, he again urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to change its standards in regards to paraquat – yet nothing was done. This has given rise to several lawsuits in the United States, all involving paraquat.

Several farmers have claimed they developed Parkinson’s disease after using paraquat on their farms. Studies have shown that farmers who use paraquat may be up to 11 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s after routine exposure to the pesticide. The disease can cause a loss of motor functions, imbalance, and shaking. Syngenta has repeatedly withheld warnings about the link between its product and Parkinsons, which has resulted in multiple lawsuits being filed. 

 

Paraquat Lawsuits

For too long, Syngenta has been allowed to market a deadly product in the United States, putting farmers and their families at risk. With growing public awareness of the lengths that Syngenta has gone to to keep this product on the market, the team at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt is tracking this evolving story closely. As Philadelphia’s Top Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyers, If you or someone you love was impacted by the use of paraquat, we want to hear from you. Call us today at 1-866-333-7715 for a free consultation, or fill out our form

 

The High Price of Attempted Whistleblower Retaliation

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The High Price of Attempted Whistleblower Retaliation

Barclays fined $15 Million for CEO’s Attempt to Identify Whistleblowers

The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued a press release this past December  announcing a $15 million penalty against Barclays Bank PLC for violations of New York state banking laws. The sanctioned conduct involved Barclays CEO, James E. Staley, who attempted to discover the identity of an anonymous whistleblower or whistleblowers.  The saga began in 2016 when an anonymous person or persons sent two letters to a senior member of Barclays’ management.

Internal Whistleblower Tips Confirmed at Record Rate in 2015

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Employees continued to report misconduct internally at higher levels and those reports were confirmed at an all-time high in 2015, according to the Navex Global annual Ethics and Compliance Hotline Benchmark Report released yesterday. Navex analyzes data from 860,000 reports across 2,300 organizations globally, including information from compliance hotlines, and compiles the information into its report.

Corruption Reports Highlight Worldwide Bribery Problem in 2016

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The global problem of bribery isn’t going away anytime soon. Forty percent of all compliance officers reported the risk of bribery and corruption at their company will increase this year, according to the Kroll and Ethisphere Institute report released this morning: The 2016 Anti-Bribery and Corruption Report. Just 8 percent believed that their corruption risks would decrease in 2016.

Big Award for Compliance Whistleblower in Record Kickback Case

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Earlier this week, medical device manufacturer Olympus agreed to pay the largest ever civil False Claims Act settlement by a medical device manufacturer to resolve a lawsuit over violations of the federal anti-kickback statute. In addition to the record $310.8 million, they also agreed to pay $312.4 million in criminal penalties. A reward of around $51 million will go the whistleblower in the case.

Whistleblowers Discover More Fraud than Internal or External Audits

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Fraud within companies is on the rise and whistleblowers are playing a crucial role in helping detect it, according to the eighth annual Global Fraud Report produced by Kroll and released in late November.

DOJ Hires Corporate Compliance Program Expert

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In the next few months, the DOJ will have a new member on the team evaluating corporate compliance programs for the determination of the appropriateness of prosecution and penalties under laws like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The Justice Department already has experts in subject matters such as accounting and forensics. The hiring of this candidate, who has been selected but is undergoing a background check, will be used in assisting the government’s determination of whether the company deserves a larger monetary penalty, or even no fine whatsoever, due to the ineffectiveness or strength of its compliance program.

The DOJ has previously told companies they will be rewarded under the FCPA for strong anti-corruption programs and the quick detection of improper payments through internal accounting controls. In a few different previous government declinations to prosecute under the FCPA, the DOJ has cited strong compliance efforts and self-reporting as reasons to not prosecute companies criminally.

Th creation of this position is likely in response to the growth in compliance programs at banks and large corporations. In order to avoid fines from regulators that are reaching into the billions of dollars, some banks are spending up to $4 billion a year to comply with laws and regulations. In early 2014, the Wall Street Journal called the Compliance Officer the hottest job in America.

Yet, even with the employment of more compliance professionals, companies are still violating the law. There have already been two awards to securities whistleblowers employed in a compliance or audit position. These individuals face a 120 day waiting period before they can become eligible for a reward when they report to the SEC whistleblower program.

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