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MODESETT WILLIAMS PLLC

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AUSTIN, TX 78701

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OUR LATEST News AND Updates

 

what's happening in our world

Call to Support Senate Bill 932

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Texas Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 932, the bill that would crack down on bad nursing homes, and now the House is deliberating on whether these bad nursing homes should be held accountable for their wrongdoings. Jack Modesett wrote a letter in February congratulating Senator Schwertner for his work on this bill and on behalf of some of our most vulnerable citizens, which can be read here.


This morning's Austin American-Statesman features a full page ad in support of the bill and we strongly encourage you to check it out, learn more about the low quality of care provided by Texas nursing homes, and take action.


"Tell your legislator to make nursing homes safer and protect Texas seniors by passing Senate Bill 932. Call 1-844-305-8852 today."

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/

Antipsychotics used to Tame Residents

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Growing old: it is something we all must face one day, but now, with more caution than before. Nursing homes have been under scrutiny for their abuse of prescribing antipsychotic drugs to control their residents. Specifically, a study conducted by the United States' government in 2008 revealed that "88 percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotics prescribed in nursing homes were for treating symptoms of dementia, even though the drugs aren't approved for that". Not only are antipsychotics not approved for individuals with dementia, they are highly warned against, as they have been proven to increase the risk of infection, heart failure, and death. 


So why are nursing homes unnecessarily prescribing these dangerous drugs? Many claim the reason that nursing homes are turning to antipsychotic drugs to control patients is because the homes are significantly understaffed. Unable to be provided sufficient care, nursing home residents become more restless. The staff in turn controls this restlessness with drug abuse. In addition, patients with dementia, Alzheimer's, and related diseases often suffer from increased levels of aggression and anxiety, and antipsychotic drugs have been said to suppress these symptoms. However, the suppression has been described as "mind-numbing", leaving patients in a state of confusion.


The government has become involved in the efforts to alleviate this drug-abuse issue: in 2011, the U.S. government committed to reducing antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes by 15% within one year. However, the campaign lasted two years and then left over 300,000 nursing home residents still prescribed to these drugs. Requiring informed consent has also been a mechanism used to reduce this abuse. However, nursing homes have often found ways around this required consent as many residents and  family members were unaware of the prescription drugs. Obviously, this is an issue that needs to be legally addressed. If you suspect your loved one has suffered from any sort of abuse in a nursing home, call us immediately for a free consultation at 512-472-6097.


The full article is available at: www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/12/08/368524824/old-and-overmedicated-the-real-drug-problem-in-nursing-homes

A Threatening Trend: Inexperienced Trial Lawyers

Modesett Williams - Thursday, March 12, 2015

An article titled “Honesty is the Best Policy: It’s Time to Disclose Lack of Jury Trial Experience” was posted in the March 2015 edition of the Texas Bar Journal and discusses a threatening trend in today’s legal world: a lack of experience in trial. Modern lawyers lack the jury-trial experience that more “traditional” lawyers have gained throughout their years. There is a distinction to be made between the terminology “litigator” and “trail lawyer”. According the Kimberlee Kovach, a professor at South Texas College of Law, a litigator in “an attorney who tries cases in court”, while a trial lawyer is simply one who resolves disputes outside of a jury trial. It is important to note that the number of cases resolved outside of trial is increasing, and thus many modern attorneys lack trial experience. Consider the following statistics as an example of this new trend:

·         Within 5 years of litigation experience, 30% of attorneys had tried a case in court, and only 8% had tried more than two cases in court

·         Of these individuals, 93% had settled at least one case through mediation or negotiation

·         Within 10 years of litigation experience, 30% of attorneys had never tried a case in court, and only 36% had tried more than two cases in court

 

These statistics confirm that there are many lawyers who lack proper knowledge of the trial process and court system. This inexperience poses potential harm to clients that hire these individuals. Examples of the negative effects associated with this lack of knowledge is discussed below.

Trial inexperience conversely effects an attorney’s decisions on how to handle a client’s situation. Without experience, a lawyer cannot adequately consider the benefits of trial. For example, a case that could produce better results in court often dismisses trial as an option due to fear.  Inexperienced lawyers can be afraid of taking cases to trial because in trial, there are definite winner and losers, and thus, a lawyer’s reputation is at stake. Pre-trial settlement is the safer option to resolve disputes, and thus clients who hire inexperienced trial lawyers are likely to engage in this type of resolution. In addition, lawyers who lack trial experience may not fully understand the discovery process: their inexperience often leads to extensive and unnecessarily costly discovery process. Lastly, a lack of court experience is negatively associated with the capacity to understand jury-value. Jury value is the ability to predict a jury’s reaction to evidence, and further, the value of that evidence. A lawyer who is incapable of estimating this value cannot produce the most effective results, even through means of mediation or arbitration.

Currently, a lawyer has no legal obligation to disclose information regarding their trial experience. However, the results of a recent study reveal that clients expect that their attorney has trial experience, and thus, do not ask these questions. Therefore, a lack of disclosing trial experience has evolved into an ethical issue. Clients trust that their lawyers are knowledgeable in how to properly handle their complex cases, and as it turns out, that trust is often misplaced. At Modesett Williams, we proudly employ two highly experienced litigation lawyers with ample experience in court. Consider Modesett Williams to realize the full potential of your case.

1/3 of Nursing Home Industry Rocked by Scoring System Reform

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Medicare's "Nursing Home Compare" website rates more than 15,000 nursing homes across the United States on a scale of 1-5, and this past Friday, they changed their ranking system to endorse stricter standards. The magnitude of this change is enormous: the majority of nursing home's ratings fell dramatically. 


Let's talk about the stats that came as a direct result of this stricter ranking system:

-1/3 of nursing home's star ratings declined (that's right, 1/3 of the industry)
-63% of nursing homes saw a decline in their quality-measure rating
-Before the change, 80% of nursing homes received 4/5 stars. After the change, less than half did. 
-13% of nursing homes saw a decline in their staffing scores
-Before the recalibration, 8.5% of nursing homes were ranked 1/5 stars. After, 13% were.


Before the introduction of this reformed rating system, nursing homes were able to report their own measures without being monitored. However, the new system cross-checks all submitted information to avoid false documentation. In the end, Medicare's new nursing home standards will raise the bar for nursing home quality and will force these institutions to offer better care to their residents. Medicare's new system is helping families across the U.S. get accurate information they can trust about these facilities. This is the right path Texas should be on to offer improved care to our elderly loved ones.


For the full article, check out: www.nytimes.com/2015/02/21/business/nursing-home-ratings-fall-as-tougher-standards-take-effect.html?_r=2


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