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.

 

 

 

Fatal Pedestrian Accidents Increased Dramatically During Coronavirus Pandemic

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Road Crowd People City Traffic Street. Source: Maxpixel.net, shared under a CC0 license

 

The lockdowns of 2020 caused many departures from routine. In the case of pedestrian accidents, these changes in pattern were sometimes tragic.

Vehicle miles traveled in the first six months of the year dropped by 16.5 percent compared with the same period in 2019. Despite this drop, an increase in pedestrian deaths was registered — from 2,951 in 2019 to 2,957 in 2020!

This continuity represents an actual pedestrian fatality rate increase of 20% over 2019. The fatality rate increased to 2.2 pedestrian deaths per billion vehicle miles traveled, compared to 1.8 deaths in 2019.

The pedestrian rights lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt represent civilians with cases of serious medical injuries or wrongful deaths caused by automobiles. If you were injured due to the negligence of a driver, we will fight for the compensation that you deserve.

 

What Causes These Accidents?

In the first months of the pandemic, traffic was light but enforcement was lax. In addition, many more pedestrians were on back roads near to their houses, owing to an excess of time spent at home and no open destinations to head to.

This may help to explain the per-mile spike in pedestrian deaths in 2020 — but it doesn’t excuse it. 

When pedestrian accidents occur, drivers are often speeding, distracted, or otherwise operating their vehicle in an unsafe manner. These are the most common causes of pedestrian traffic accidents:

  • Drunk or otherwise intoxicated driving
  • Running red lights 
  • Right turns through crosswalks without looking for pedestrians
  • Distracted driving, such as driving while texting
  • Illegally parked cars making it difficult to see pedestrians and bicycles

 

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

Pedestrians harmed in traffic accidents are rarely to blame. If you or a loved one were injured on a sidewalk or at a crosswalk with no traffic signal, the driver was definitely in the wrong. Even if that was not the case, you may have had the right of way. 

Motorists must:

  • Yield to pedestrians crossing a roadway in a marked or unmarked crosswalk when the pedestrian has the right of way
  • Yield to pedestrians crossing a roadway with the assistance of a white/red-tipped cane or a guide dog. Motorists must also pay careful attention when moving past such individuals
  • Exercise “due care” by making use of all available precautions to avoid hitting pedestrians, including honking or giving audible signals when possible

Pedestrians have several responsibilities when dealing with traffic as well. They should:

  • Follow traffic control devices such as red lights, stop signs and “do not walk” signals
  • Cross at marked crosswalks or pedestrian crossings when traffic control devices are present at an intersection
  • When there are no designated crossings, pedestrians must yield the right of way to vehicles

Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries

When a vehicle and pedestrian collide, the results are predictably tragic. Our lawyers have helped pedestrians who have suffered:

These injuries don’t just cause extensive pain and suffering, they also carry staggering medical expenses. A personal injury lawsuit can help you handle the heavy burden brought on by driver negligence.

 

Other Pedestrian Injuries

It isn’t just vehicles responsible for harm to pedestrians. Negligence of all kinds is to blame for many pedestrian injuries each year. 

Slip and fall injuries occur on icy and dangerous sidewalks, in open manhole covers, from falling debris from construction projects, and down slippery stairs. 

Negligent property owners may be liable for some or all of your injuries, including medical bills and other economic damages. If intangible damages occur as a result of their negligence, they may be responsible for these too.

Photo by Nout Gons from Pexels

When to Consult with an Experienced Traffic Accident Attorney

When a devastating accident occurs, it can be hard to understand the next steps. Insurance companies are not on your side. An experienced personal injury law firm like McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt is best equipped to help you navigate this challenging process.

If you or a loved one are injured due to the negligence of a driver, property owner or construction project, don’t hesitate to contact our team of lawyers today. Fill out our form or call 1-866-382-4806.

 

Filing a Suit Against a PA Government Agency Over a Car Crash Just Got Easier

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SEPTA accident lawyer

Over the past five years in Pennsylvania, if a vehicle owned and operated by a municipal entity in the Commonwealth (such as SEPTA or the local water authority) was involved in a collision while the vehicle wasn’t in motion, the Commonwealth or entity was not liable for paying any damages.

This means if a car owned by a municipal entity was parked illegally on the road or positioned vulnerably in the roadway, and you hit it, you would not be able to bring a suit against that person or authority even if the primary reason for the crash was the way the vehicle was parked.

Wage Proposals Could Benefit Philly Workers

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construction injury lawyers philadelphia

There are a few different wage proposals at various levels of the government which we thought we would call attention to at the conclusion of a work week of beautiful weather here in Philadelphia. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the Federal Governments are considering wage proposals to increase the minimum wage, stop wage theft and help unemployed workers get back to a job.

Pennsylvania Flunks State Integrity Investigation

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Our home state of Pennsylvania was one of 11 states to flunk the Center for Public Integrity’s research into the systems in place to deter corruption in state government and 44th overall. The CPI said it had “[a]n entrenched culture of malfeasance.”

More than 400,000 Experience Wage Theft in Pennsylvania Each Week

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CFTC Whistleblower attorneys Philadelphia

A report published by Temple Law School this week detailed the pervasive problem of wage theft here in Pennsylvania and, specifically, Philadelphia. The executive summary details the grim facts for workers in the state in any given workweek:

  • Almost 400,000 Pennsylvanians experience a minimum wage violation.
  • Over 300,000 Pennsylvanians experience an overtime violation.
  • Pennsylvania workers lose a total of $19 million to $32 million in wages.

In the Philadelphia metropolitan region alone, more than 100,000 workers can be expected to have a minimum wage or overtime violation each week with 75,000 employees working off-the-clock without pay from area businesses.

The statistics are extrapolated from a 2009 investigation of thousands of workers in low-wage industries in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago and then applied to Pennsylvania using Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data.

Here in Philadelphia, the occupations most likely to experience these problems are in the restaurant industry: waiters, bartenders, cafeteria workers, cooks, dishwashers and food preparers. Other jobs seeing a significant problem were office clerks, retail salespersons, home health aides and cashiers. In the metropolitan region, the list of occupations where wage theft is experienced also includes individuals working in factory and packaging; general construction; building services and grounds workers; and drivers, parking lot attendants and car wash workers.

The report recommends Pennsylvania impose criminal penalties against employers, increase monetary penalties, create a wage lien law and impose other non-monetary penalties. It also suggests additional outreach and education, a confidential or anonymous process for complaints and internal adjudication of claims within the Department of Labor and Industry.

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Oppose Pennsylvania Governor Wolf’s Tax on Legal Services

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Personal Injury Lawyers Philadelphia PA

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s budget has proposed a tax on the legal services that we provide for our clients. Wolf announced the tax at the end of February as part of his plan to drastically cut corporate taxes in the state. If Wolf’s plan to collect sales taxes on professional services is approved, our clients would be required to pay an 8 percent sales tax on our legal fees while the businesses that we challenge in court would get a significant tax cut.

Professional services are currently exempt from the sales tax in PA. If the exemption is lifted, individuals in Philadelphia would have to pay 6 percent to the state and 2 percent to the City of Philadelphia.

The tax would cover many other kinds of professional services. The types of businesses that would be forced to collect sales tax under the proposal include transportation services, real estate agents, home health care services, nursing facilities, museums, accountants, dry-cleaning and the recreation industry.

Many states have examined whether a tax on professional services is appropriate. Three of the states that decided to adopt such a tax (Michigan, Florida and Iowa) ended up reversing that decision. Only three states currently have a broad tax on services such as this one. Those states are South Dakota, Hawaii and New Mexico.

The proposal would continue to allow professional services purchased by businesses to be exempt from the sales tax. The impact of this change would not be felt by the businesses that commit fraud or deny individuals adequate compensation for their injuries. This bill would be another benefit for the people that need

The proposal would also extend the sales tax to a few personal items currently exempt. These items include flags, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, caskets and candy.

This is not the first proposal to charge sales tax on professional services in our state. Last year, PA Senate Bill 76 also proposed changes to the tax structure which included a tax on our services. With your help, we can defeat this proposal again.

We hope you will write to Governor Wolf as well as your representatives in the Pennsylvania legislature concerning this important issue. Tell them that you oppose Wolf’s plan to charge sales tax on professional services and specifically mention the impact that a tax on legal services would have on your life.

Submit your feedback to Governor Wolf about this important issue via his online contact form available at http://www.governor.pa.gov/contact/Pages/contact.aspx .

Governor Wolf will need the approval of our representatives in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in order to adopt this measure. Please write to them as well. If you are not familiar with the name of your representative in the Pennsylvania State Senate or the House of Representatives, you may look up this information on the Pennsylvania General Assembly website here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/index.cfm . From the results, you should be able to navigate to the website to find their contact information. If you need assistance locating this information, please contact us and we will help you find it.

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Will Pennsylvania Adopt a False Claims Act?

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Mceldrew Young Philadelphia whistleblower lawyers

Once again, Pennsylvania legislators have the opportunity to adopt a state False Claims Act.  The federal False Claims Act (FCA) was enacted in 1863 to redress fraud perpetrated by companies that sold supplies to the Union Army during the Civil War. Since its enactment, the FCA has been amended three times – in 1943, 1986, and 2009. Since the 1986 amendments were signed into law, the FCA has returned more than $28 billion to the federal treasury and has deterred even more fraudulent activity.

In is well-recognize that the qui tam provisions of the FCA permit whistle-blowers to recover between 15 and 30 percent of the United States’ recovery. (Qui tam is short for a Latin phrase that roughly means “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.”) The FCA thus encourages individuals to come forward with information of government contractor fraud and rewards them for their integrity.

In addition to the federal FCA, 27 states and the District of Columbia have enacted analogous state false-claims acts. New York, Chicago, and Allegheny County, Pa., (enacted in May) have their own versions.  Since 2000, states that have enacted false-claims laws have recovered more than $7 billion. FCA recoveries have consistently increased over the last several years, and this trend is expected to continue. It is well-recognized that State False-claims acts also promote public safety and the integrity of federal, state, and local programs.

Our Commonwealth currently lacks adequate protection from the fraud and abuse that drain millions every year from the state programs, from Medicaid to infrastructure projects. A Pennsylvania False Claims Act would allow whistleblowers who discover false or fraudulent claims to sue the perpetrators and recover the funds for the Commonwealth.

In nearly every regular session of the state House since 1999, representatives from both parties have proposed a false-claims act. On June 24, House Bill 1725, authored by State Rep. Mike Gerber (D., Montgomery), was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, but the panel has not voted on it. While the bill languishes in committee, the Commonwealth is missing the opportunity to deter fraud and recoup much-needed funds.

Its time the state legislation created a vehicle for private citizens to be awarded for policing our public programs.

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If you feel you may have information concerning fraud against the government, please call 800-590-4116 for a FREE AND CONFIDENTIAL attorney consultation today.

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