A local newspaper wrote an article about how a disgruntled family member of a recently deceased resident is suing us. Readers may infer poor care from the article. Can we stop the paper from writing these stories about soon-to-be-proven false accusations?
This is a very difficult public relations problem. You may want to retain a PR company to help you respond.
Unfortunately, litigation by residents and their families against those providing care and services to seniors is increasing. Newspapers reporting the filing of such litigation will have a negative impact on the reputation of the service provider, and that negative impact may cause loss of potential nursing home residents.
If the newspaper reports filing litigation does not prove the allegations of wrongdoing, your PR adviser or your lawyer should demand such fairness and indicate that the service provider denies all allegations of wrongdoing and that such a denial should be reported.
Failure of the paper to report the denial of wrongdoing and the fact that allegations of wrongdoing are not proven may open the door for the provider to sue the newspaper for defamation and libel. Such lawsuits against a newspaper are hard to win, but the threat of such a lawsuit may lead to a better chance at fairer reporting.
You also could have the newspaper or another paper report information on your high-quality reputation as evidenced by your four- or five-star rating, clean government surveys and testimonials by current or former residents and their families.
However, these PR activities will not solve the problem, but rather only mitigate the negative public relations until you either defeat the lawsuit on the merits or settle it.