Florida seeks to limit nursing home lawsuits; names new nursing home ombudsman

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Jury hands down $3.3 million verdict against CO nursing home in negligence case
Jury hands down $3.3 million verdict against CO nursing home in negligence case

Lawmakers in Florida are proposing a controversial bill that would put a $300,000 cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death cases involving nursing homes.

Along with the cap, the bill says only licensees and their management companies, as well as direct caregivers, can be sued as part of a neglect case. This proposal also would make it more difficult to prove that understaffing is a factor in neglect cases, as staffing problems cited in routine state audits would not be admissible in a lawsuit.

Nursing home industry lobbyists have pushed for the bill, but they might have hit a dead end this legislative session. While Florida's House Health & Human Services voted to approve the measure, the Senate version stalled when its Judiciary Committee ran out of time to vote on it Monday.

In other Florida long-term care news, Jim Crochet was named the state's new nursing home ombudsman. Most recently, Crochet worked in the department's legal office. He has 27 years of experience working as a long-term care advocate in Florida's health and human services department, the Associated Press reported.

Crochet replaces Brian Lee, who some observers claim was forced to resign after frequently butting heads with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and various long-term care providers. Earlier this month, federal officials launched an investigation into the circumstances under which Lee resigned. The Administration on Aging is looking into whether Scott acted lawfully in the firing.