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Covid-19 Nursing Home

Nursing Homes Want Immunity From Lawsuits Relating To Covid-19

Covid-19 has taken over the entire world, and it’s hitting the hardest in places that need to have close-corridor living. This is why the world sent home all student’s from college when this began, sharing a room is the opposite of what anyone should be doing right now; if they have the choice. This means that the virus-related death toll in places like nursing homes is exponentially greater than what it is for individuals able to live in their own homes, protected from the outside world. 

In the US specifically there have been around 12,000 deaths within the country’s nursing homes alone. As that death toll keeps climbing, these facilities are pushing the state governments that they reside in to provide them with legal immunity from lawsuits directed at the owners/employees of these homes. America has about 15,600 nursing homes for context. 

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There have been six states so far that have granted their nursing home facilities complete immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits, and six other states have begun enforcing legal protection policies as well for health care providers exclusively. It’s been quite the debate, however, as many individuals with loved ones in nursing homes don’t want these facilities to avoid being held accountable for any sort of neglect that they can pass off as “coronavirus-related.” 

“Most staff in nursing homes are doing the very best they can, under horrendous circumstances. But the combination of fewer rules, no family, no ombudsmen, no surveyors, no enforcement, more money and now industry efforts to get immunity from civil and criminal liability for anything related to coronavirus is a lethal combination in the hands of unscrupulous people,” said Toby Edelman, senior policy attorney for the Center for Medicare Advocacy, a group that advocates for nursing home residents.

Virginia, for example, is a state that already had legal provisions put in place for a pandemic situation such as this. Virginia has a policy known as “civil liability immunity” for all health care workers during emergencies. It’s difficult, however, to determine if these protections cover nursing homes as well because many states don’t consider these facilities to be “health care” related, legally speaking. 

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Massachusetts and New York, two states that have also recently passed health care protection legislation, made sure to include policies that explicitly immunized nursing homes from lawsuits related to Covid-19. Beyond them, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, and New Jersey also created immunization policies specifically for nursing home workers. 

The “six other states that have begun enforcing legal protection policies” for health care workers haven’t distinguished if nursing homes are included in those protections. In Illinois and Arizona, for example, the executive orders that have been signed in the recent weeks do not specifically list nursing homes as a facility that’s protected from coronavirus-related lawsuits.

Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Kentucky also passed legal immunization for health care providers, but never mentioned nursing homes in the actual policy. Indiana has also passed a skeptical policy, however, they’re law grants “immunity to any facility that provides health care services by a [licensed] professional” in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

While it’s unclear as to whether some states will protect nursing home workers/facilities from Covid-19 related lawsuits, we do know that we have to keep all health care providers in our thoughts during this very difficult time. As Indiana stated, any facility that provides health care services by a professional, deserves all the resources and protections our government can provide during a pandemic, so let’s give it to them. 

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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Arizona Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma

The Sackler Family, more commonly known as the owners of Purdue Pharma LP, have been at the center of a massive epidemic that has claimed the lives of almost half a million Americans within the past decade. The opioid crisis has been an ongoing issue that has recently been thrown into the spotlight because of the multiple lawsuits that seem to appear every day against the former billion dollar pharmaceutical company. Just recently, the U.S. Supreme Court turned away a case from the state of Arizona which sought to recover billions of dollars from the Sackler Family, after they claimed the family was funneling the money out of the company for themselves, months before Purdue filed for bankruptcy

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich was the individual who pursued this specific case against Purdue, according to Reuters. His case’s overall goal was the same as the thousands of other lawsuits filed against the company within the past year; to hold Purdue accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic, and lack of action to protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Brnovich’s specific suit accused eight members of the Sackler family of funneling out up to $4 billion throughout a period of eight years (2008 to 2016). Brnovich believes the family funneled out the money because they were aware of the potential liabilities its marketing of opioids instilled, so to make sure they’d be financially secure when all of those liabilities came to light, they slowly made a cushion account for themselves. 

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“Brnovich argued that the national importance of holding those responsible for the opioid crisis accountable justified taking the case directly to the justices,” Reuters reported. 

As previously mentioned, there are currently thousands of lawsuits that are being worked through against Purdue. The suits range from state, county, and even city-wide in terms of severity, but they all seek the same thing that Brnovich wants, holding the Sacklers accountable for their major role in the U.S.’s opioid addiction crisis. A majority of the lawsuits make the same claim, that Purdue “deceptively market[ed] opioids by overstating their benefits and playing down the risks.”

As a response to the lawsuits, Purdue has already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September of this year. The filing came after the company had already reached a deal that holds them accountable for $10 billion to be distributed depending on the severity of each suit. As of September 2019, when this deal was proposed, 23 states had filed a suit against Purdue, and about 2,000 individual cities did as well. 

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The original proposed deal only cited that Purdue pay $3 billion to the thousands of plaintiffs over the course of several years; however, over half of the states with opened lawsuits refuted that original deal. They refuted after claims were made that the Sackler family was worth well over three times that amount, and owed more when compared to the amount of lives lost and destruction caused by the family’s willful ignorance. 

After the $10 billion proposal deal, a federal bankruptcy judge placed a hold on every city and state-wide case against the company and family. However, Arizona and Brnovich didn’t want to wait any longer, so they continued the fight, only to be declined by the Supreme Court this week. The federal bankruptcy court and Purdue’s lawyers wanted Arizona’s case, amongst others, to remain in bankruptcy court as opposed to the Supreme Court. Arizona and Brnovich aren’t satisfied with keeping the case in the lower courts, as they wanted higher up federal action. 

“The states of Ohio, Alaska, North Dakota, Louisiana and Utah supported Arizona. Brnovich’s case relied upon language in the U.S. Constitution giving the Supreme Court ‘original jurisdiction’ over disputes in which a state is a party, meaning states can file a lawsuit at the high court instead of litigating first in lower courts,” Reuters reports.