State Supreme Court blocks effort to criminally charge nursing home company in neglect case

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The Massachusetts Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an attempt to charge a nursing home company with manslaughter. The case involved an employee whose alleged neglect led to the death of a resident.

IAttorney General Martha Coakley tried to hold Tennessee-based Life Care Centers of America criminally responsible based on the “aggregate actions” of all facility employees, The Boston Globe reported. She charged that their collective neglect led to resident Julia McCauley's death. But the state Supreme Court shot down that argument, calling it “illogical,” and a misguided attempt to turn the negligent actions of some employees into a criminal action by the company, the Globe said. 

In 2007, a grand jury sided with Coakley in holding the company criminally responsible for the death of 74-year old  McCauley, according to the Globe. McCauley, who had been under a physician's order to wear an anti-wandering alarm bracelet, died when her wheelchair overturned and she fell down the facility's front steps. For two-and-a-half months prior to her death, she had not been wearing the bracelet, and that her medical charts did not include the physician's order, according to the Globe.