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MODESETT WILLIAMS PLLC

EXPERIENCED     TRIAL     LAWYERS

515 CONGRESS AVENUE

SUITE 1650

AUSTIN, TX 78701

512.472.6097

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OUR LATEST News AND Updates

 

what's happening in our world

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/

Nursing Homes Combining with Hospital Districts - Crony Capitalism at Its Worst

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, October 28, 2015

For those who keep abreast of developments in the world of nursing home care in Texas, a recent Dallas Morning News article should cause outrage. Nursing homes have entered into sham arrangements with rural hospital districts (which are governmental entities). The stated purpose of the arrangement is to give the nursing home access to additional federal dollars and improve the care of nursing home patients (Texas ranks last - 50 out of 50). But the law permitting this arrangement does not compel nursing homes to use this new money to improve care. Nor does it give the hospital districts any authority on how to improve care. So, what could be the real purpose of these arrangements? Money. The hospital districts receive a little money, the nursing homes receive a lot. A second purpose, unstated in the article, is to potentially further lower the statutory cap on damages. If your mother needlessly dies of malnutrition because the staff did not feed her, her damages may be capped at $100,000 under certain circumstances. Stay tuned.


Read the full Dallas Morning News article here:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20150530-public-hospitals-help-nursing-home-operators-get-federal-funds.ece

Low-rated Texas nursing homes strike deals with public hospitals for federal cash

Modesett Williams - Monday, October 26, 2015

A recently published article in the Dallas Morning News tells the story of good intentions and bad results. Nursing homes have reached agreements with local hospital districts that provide more federal dollars for the nursing home, but there is no requirement that the nursing home use that money to improve care. Consequently, a majority of this money will go directly into the nursing home operator's pocket and not towards patient care, no matter how poor a nursing home's record. An additional outcome is that patients harmed by the nursing home's poor care may be subject to even lower caps on their damages.


Read the entire article here: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20150530-public-hospitals-help-nursing-home-operators-get-federal-funds.ece

Not a Good Time to be Old

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Last week, Genworth put out a report detailing long-term health care costs in the U.S., and the results are worrisome. In a previous blog post, we discussed how the cost of nursing home care is rising at about 4% per year, and that many insurance companies are exiting the market because it is proving unprofitable (check out the post here: http://www.modwill.com/blog/soaring-long-term-health-costs). In 2015, the private sector's exit of the long-term health care market will leave families responsible for $91, 250 of annual nursing home expenses.


However, it is important to point out that less-intensive forms of long-term care are significantly less expensive than nursing homes. The national average for assisted living facilities is $43, 200, but it is growing at an annual rate of 2%. In addition, the adult day health care programs average at around $17, 904 annually and are growing at about 3%. 


Luckily, the long-term health care annual costs are lower in Austin than the national average. For a private nursing home room, families can expect to pay $84, 133. If a family chooses to pursue an assisted living facility, they can expect roughly $49, 284 in annual expenses, and if they pursue an adult day health care program, they will be responsible for $15, 600 annually. The long-term health care rates are less pricey in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Waco, and Amarillo, making Austin the most expensive place for nursing homes in Texas.



I'll conclude with one final shocking financial figure: 30 years from today, a private nursing home room is predicted to cost $204, 213 annually. Start saving, folks.


To see nursing home costs by region, visit: https://www.genworth.com/corporate/about-genworth/industry-expertise/cost-of-care.html

Consumers Know Best

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The federal government recently revised its nursing home ranking system to offer fairer nursing home quality evaluations for families to consider (see http://www.modwill.com/blog/1-3-of-nursing-home-industry-rocked-by-scoring-system-reform for more details). However, it has been argued by many that the new system, while improved, is not comprehensive enough. Specifically, individuals are calling for consumer input in nursing home ratings. 

 

Nursing home placement decisions are significant choices for families, and who better to rate a nursing home than the residents themselves? Currently, consumer reviews for nursing homes are available, but their validity is questionable at best. The reviews are offered on bias, un-monitored sites that anyone can post on. Nursing homes have long had a reputation for mistreat and abuse, and thus, the available consumer reviews could be forged attempts to alleviate the bad reputation they hold. 

 

John Hale, an author for the Des Moines Register, offered a convincing solution: making consumer surveys mandatory and administered through objective third parties, such as the federal government. Mr. Hale argues that with this strategy, families could make nursing home placement decisions more confidently. 

 

 

To read the full article, visit: www.desmoineregister.com/story/opinion/abetteriowa/2015/03/31/nursing-home-compare-consumer-input/70717818/

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

Monthly Allowance Increase for Nursing Home Residents

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Legislation that would raise the elderly's "monthly allowance" is in the works. On Tuesday, Nebraska's Legislature proposed a bill that would distribute more money to Medicaid beneficiaries in nursing homes. Currently, Medicaid recipients must use all but $50 a month to pay for nursing home expenses. The proposed legislation would raise that amount to a $75 personal allowance. 


Proponents of the legislation argue that the current amount of money that these elderly individuals receive is insufficient, undignified even. The aim of their petition is to raise the standards of living in nursing homes by giving the elderly more purchasing power. Lincoln Senator Colby Coash endorsed the bill, recalling the tale of a nursing home who had a Christmas tree in their lobby where the residents could write "Christmas wish lists". The nursing home residents were asking for basic necessities, such as a pair of socks, a gift certificate for a haircut, or a bottle of shampoo. It is evident, therefore, that a $50 monthly allowance does not provide what our elderly need, and thus, the proposed increase in allowance could benefit their quality of life.



For the full article, visit: www.netnebraska.org/article/news/962546/more-spending-money-medicaid-nursing-home-patient-drivers-licenses-dreamers


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