Victims of nursing home neglect face maze of shell companies
Nursing home abuse and neglect are two of the most disturbing yet common forms of elder abuse in the nation. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 44 percent of nursing home residents who participated in a study indicated that they had been abused and 95 percent admitted to being neglected or seeing another resident neglected. These astonishingly high rates translate into lawsuits, and some nursing homes are turning to the unethical and illegal practice of creating shell companies to keep from having to compensate families. Unfortunately, this is something that an Illinois nursing home abuse attorney regularly sees.
What is a shell company?
A shell company is a business without any active operations and little or no assets. An Illinois nursing home abuse attorney often sees care homes use these companies to shift valuable assets to a new holding company while transferring all the stock and liabilities to the shell company. Although unethical, many companies opt to do this in order to keep from paying large wrongful death settlements.
Families fighting back
According to Bloomberg.com, one family is currently standing up to the parent company of the nursing home that negligently caused the death of their matriarch. Family members claim that the 76-year-old woman was neglected so severely that she was malnourished, had developed multiple bedsores and was placed in a situation that allowed her to fall and injure her head. Only five weeks after she was removed from the home, the woman died and the family chose to seek compensation for injury from the nursing home responsible.
Even though the family received a $110 million verdict for nursing home neglect against the two nursing home companies responsible for her care, they have faced years of litigation in trying to have the verdict enforced. The corporate structure of one of the nursing homes was specifically designed to transfer any liabilities that the home operator incurred to a shell company without assets and without the ability to pay the verdict. Five other families reportedly gave up their fight for collection against the company when they discovered the alleged fraud.
Protections against abuse
The best protection families can take against ending up in this situation is to ensure that their elderly loved ones are properly treated at their care facilities. When families take the time to visit regularly and act as an active patient advocate, it minimizes the chances that understaffed and undertrained personnel will target their family member. Those whose loved ones have been neglected at the hands of those who are meant to care for them should contact an elder abuse attorney for help seeking compensation for injury and closure for the matter.