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MODESETT WILLIAMS PLLC

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AUSTIN, TX 78701

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OUR LATEST News AND Updates

 

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Modesett Williams Client Prevails in McLennan County

Modesett Williams - Monday, March 20, 2017

After a five-day jury trial, Jack Modesett obtained a $450,000 verdict against Senior Living Properties LLC d/b/a Jeffrey Place Rehabilitation Center based in Waco, Texas. Mr. Modesett was assisted by Vic Feazell.


The jury found Jeffrey Place negligent and grossly negligent in its care of Homer Byrd, who died a month after being admitted.


The evidence included testimony that showed the 79-year-old blind, diabetic resident acquired a toe infection that turned gangrenous, which led to his right leg being amputated just above the knee and, ultimately, to his death.


Jeffrey Place attempted to rebut this evidence with testimony that said the personnel followed the directions of the center's medical director and did all they could for Mr. Byrd, but the jury found that not to be accurate, particularly given their failing to promptly spot and treat the infected toe. Nurses claimed to have noticed the wound, but not until it had turned black, developed a foul odor and was 4 centimeters by 5 centimeters. The jury ruled this a breach of the ordinary standard of care and that it played a substantial role in Mr. Byrd's premature death.


The Byrd family was awarded the exact amounts requested by Mr. Modesett during his final summations of the wrongful death lawsuit. Though Mr. Modesett left the figure for punitive damages to the jury's discretion, one of the jurors said he would have granted the family more than the $200,000 settled upon if the decision had been solely his. The juror cited the evidence brought by Mr. Modesett as proving gross negligence occurred, saying, "There was a lot more that could have been done for this man, and it was just absolute refusal to see a problem that is blatantly obvious."


Modesett Williams, PLLC is a firm of board certified trial lawyers, based in Austin, Texas. Jack Modesett is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Walter Williams is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. They have tried cases in dozens of Texas counties and throughout the United States.


Modesett Williams represents a broad range of litigation clients throughout Texas and the United States. For additional information, please call Jack Modesett at 512.472.6097.

Jack's Take on the Bill that would Crack Down on Bad Nursing Homes

Modesett Williams - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Read the Austin American-Statesman article about Senate Bill 932 here. The bill was filed by State Senator Charles Schwertner on Thursday, February 16, 2017.


Jack Modesett has spent twenty-five years representing patients who have suffered abuse in the long-term care setting. He feels that Senator Schwertner is to be congratulated for his work on behalf of some of our most vulnerable citizens, but he knows there is still work to be done in protecting these people.


The two agree that nursing home operators must be held accountable for their acts of malfeasance. In handling hundreds of these cases across Texas, Jack has seen every kind of horror one can imagine and recognizes that these types of abuses and neglect occur all too frequently in nursing homes. He asserts that this will continue as many nursing home operators have used recent changes to Texas law to "associate" with county hospitals and then claim Tort Claims Immunity. These "associations" are a sham and change nothing about how the homes are operated or who really operates them; some of the "associations" are with county hospitals that are not within a hundred miles of the home.


If Jack can offer any assistance in representing these victims, holding nursing home operators accountable, or improving the long-term care industry, Modesett Williams stands ready.

CNN: Over 1,000 Nursing Homes Cited for Mishandling and Failing to Prevent Sexual Abuse

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CNN investigation published: February 22, 2017


"The unthinkable is happening at facilities throughout the country: Vulnerable seniors are being raped and sexually abused by the very people paid to care for them.


"It's impossible to know just how many victims are out there. But through an exclusive analysis of state and federal data and interviews with experts, regulators and the families of victims, CNN has found that this little-discussed issue is more widespread than anyone would imagine.


"Even more disturbing: In many cases, nursing homes and the government officials who oversee them are doing little - or nothing - to stop it.


"Sometimes pure - and even willful - negligence is at work. In other instances, nursing home employees and administrators are hamstrung in their efforts to protect victims who can't remember exactly what happened to them or even identify their perpetrators.


"In cases reviewed by CNN, victims and their families were failed at every stage. Nursing homes were slow to investigate and report allegations because of a reluctance to believe the accusations - or a desire to hide them. Police viewed the claims as unlikely at the outset, dismissing potential victims because of failing memories or jumbled allegations. And because of the high bar set for substantiating abuse, state regulators failed to flag patterns of repeated allegations against a single caregiver.


"It's these systemic failures that make it especially hard for victims to get justice - and even easier for perpetrators to get away with their crimes."


Continue reading about the mishandling and lack of prevention of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse cases in nursing homes here:

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/02/health/nursing-home-sex-abuse-investigation/

Winning Before Trial - Employees as Witnesses

Modesett Williams - Monday, October 19, 2015

In July, we tried a nursing home abuse case where four former and one current employee testified that Bastrop Lost Pines Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was chronically understaffed and unable to turn and reposition their patients, causing infected, fatal bed sores. This contradicted the payroll records the nursing home offered to show it was appropriately staffed. The jury believed the five live witnesses. Prior to trial, we spent a large amount of time compelling the Defendant to provide former employee contact information, tracking them down and talking to them. Their stories were consistent, as was their desire to help our clients tell their story.


Our take-away: Former employees know how organizations really run, are usually willing to testify and are not always disgruntled. Credible live witnesses often outweigh the cold documents. This is particularly true when the witnesses have nothing to gain by their testimony and may have placed themselves at risk when they want to continue to work in the industry.

Bastrop County, Texas, July 17, 2015

Modesett Williams - Monday, October 12, 2015

After a five day jury trial, Jack Modesett obtained a $240,000 verdict against Regency Nursing Center Partners of Bastrop, Ltd d/b/a Bastrop Lost Pines Nursing and Rehabilitation Center based in Victoria, Texas. Mr. Modesett was assisted by his partner, Walter Williams.


The jury found Bastrop Lost Pines to be negligent in its care of Margaret Haywood, who was a resident from late August through mid-December of 2013 after suffering a stroke in her home.


The evidence included the testimony of four former and one current employee that Bastrop Lost Pines could not provide adequate care and follow doctor’s orders to turn and reposition Ms. Haywood every 2 hours because of chronic understaffing. Bastrop Lost Pines’ failure resulted in Ms. Haywood developing a Stage 4 bed sore on her coccyx.


Bastrop Lost Pines attempted to rebut this evidence with unsigned time cards, which the jury found not to be credible, particularly given Bastrop Lost Pines’ written misrepresentations to the federal government concerning the very same bed sore and the treating physician’s testimony that substandard care caused Ms. Haywood’s bed sore.


Lying in her own waste, not being turned or changed for hours at a time, day after day, caused Ms. Haywood’s Stage 4 bed sore to become infected, infected her bones and played a substantial role in her premature death.


The jury found for the Estate of Margaret Haywood and her surviving children, Jerry Haywood, Lillie Piper, Geneva McMarion, Hulisher Haywood, James Haywood and Dorothy Haywood- Dockery.


Modesett Williams, PLLC is a firm of board certified trial lawyers, based in Austin, Texas. Jack Modesett is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Walter Williams is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas board of Legal Specialization. They have tried cases in dozens of Texas counties and throughout the United States.


Modesett Williams represents a broad range of litigation clients throughout Texas and the United States. For additional information, please call Jack Modesett at 512.472.6097. 

3 Strikes, You're Out

Modesett Williams - Monday, February 16, 2015

For years now, Texas has consistently ranked among the worst states when it comes to nursing home quality. Recognizing this deficiency, Texas lawmakers have proposed a "3 strikes rule" that would revoke the license of and shut down any nursing home cited with three federal-deficiencies. The conditions of the legislation are that the offenses would have to take place on separate dates, and that the offenses would have to occur within a 24 month period. 


Proponents of the legislation argue that the 3 strike rule would make nursing homes more conscious about their conditions and encourage managers to appropriately handle their staff. However, there are oppositions to the legislation. It has been argued that if a nursing home's license were to be revoked, the individuals living in the home could face difficulties finding a facility to accept them. Regardless of the arguments against the legislation, the lawmakers have spurred and welcomed a much-needed discussion on what Texas can do to improve the quality of care in nursing homes.


To view the full article, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/us/nursing-facilities-blast-three-strikes-proposal.html?_r=0

Nursing Homes Abuse Antipsychotics to Control Patients

Patricia Small - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A recent article by AARP sheds light on a widespread problem in nursing homes that is putting elderly patients at risk. According to the article, thousands of nursing homes across the country are using unnecessary antipsychotic drugs as chemical restraints to control residents. 


The article quotes Toby Edelman, an attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Washington, D.C., who points to inadequate training, understaffing, and aggressive marketing tactics by big pharmaceutical companies as the driving force behind this long-standing practice. These large companies target nursing homes as the main distributor of their drugs because these facilities are often highly medicalized but typically have very few doctors on site. Less than a year ago, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries were forced to shell out over $2.2 billion for criminal and civil charges after marketing non-FDA approved drugs to nursing homes, the article reports. 


"When nursing facilities divert funds from the care of residents to corporate overhead and profits, the human toll is enormous," Edelman said.


And indeed, the bottom line is often the most important factor when considering the quality of care received by patients in nursing homes. Nursing homes can cut costs by keeping less full-time staff members, or employing CNAs over full-time physicians. The CNAs working in nursing homes are often underpaid and overworked, a problem that is compounded by residents who require a high level of care, the article reports.


Although by law, nursing homes require informed consent by a patient, or family member if consent by the resident is not possible, before receiving drugs like antipsychotics, many nursing homes administer these medications without authorization, pointing to "bad behavior" as justification for doling out antipsychotics to patients. According to the article, these drugs are not meant for elderly patients or those with Alzheimer's or dementia, but rather for patients with extreme schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. 


"They can dull a patient's memory, sap their personalities and crush their spirits," states a report from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. 


Not only can these drugs make patients agitated, anxious, confused and disoriented, they can also double the risk of death in the elderly, the article reports. Despite knowing the risks associated with antipsychotics, pharmaceutical companies continue to market their products to nursing homes, claiming these drugs work as an effective way to control difficult patients. 


The article details a specific case of overmedication in a nursing home resident, reporting that Patricia Thomas, a 79-year-old nursing home resident, went into a nursing home with a broken pelvis, and died within weeks of being discharged after an 18-day stay. 


According to the article, Thomas's daughter, Kathi Levine, 57, said she "wasn't my mother anymore. She was withdrawn, slumped in a wheelchair with her head down, chewing on her hand, her speech garbled."


The article reports that her short stint in the nursing home exposed her to so many heavy-duty medications, including illegally administered antipsychotics, that she was no longer able to function. For each drug she was given, she was given another drug to counter the side-effects of the first. 


"My mother went into Ventura for physical therapy. Instead, she was drugged up to make her submissive. I believe that my mother died because profit and greed were more important than people," Levine said.


Levine took her case to a Ventura County Superior Court judge, and attorneys from Johnson Moore joined by lawyers from AARP Foundation settled a class-action lawsuit against the nursing home for illegally administering dangerous drugs, the article reports. 


Attorney Kelly Bagby, senior counsel fro AARP Foundation litigation, said, "It is the first case of its kind in the country, and hopefully we can replicate this nationwide."


For more information, see the full article by AARP

It's Not a Myth

Patricia Small - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Elder Abuse is Happening in Our Own Backyard


Recent statistics by the National Center on Elder Abuse state that 9.5% of the elderly population suffered some form of abuse in 2010. That is roughly one out of of every ten people over 60 years of age. Despite how shocking those numbers may be, it is difficult to see them as anything other than numbers. Connecting real names and faces to the individuals who experience abuse and neglect can be challenging. We write them off, dismiss these incidents as anomalies or freak accidents.


Unfortunately, these cases hit closer to home than we may want to believe. A recent article by the Houston Chronicle reported the death of two residents in a northwest Houston nursing home after both were beaten to death by another resident with a wheelchair armrest.


According to the article, Antonio Acosta, one of the victims, warned his family about the dangers of his new roommate, even begging them to find somewhere else for him to go. The roommate, 56-year-old Guillermo Correa, was charged with capital murder for the death of Acosta and another roommate, Primitivo Lopez, the article reports. 


This tragic murder sheds some light on a problem that is often not thought about when we talk about abuse in nursing homes. Often we assume that nursing home abuse refers to blatant abuse between a staff member and a resident. However, as was the case in Houston, abuse can also occur between residents. The Houston facility, Lexington Place, refused to comment, the article states. 


These incidents are often yet another result of understaffed nursing homes. More supervision, more time for resident concerns and more careful monitoring of arguments between residents can go a long way in preventing these tragedies. 



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