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Teach Your Children about the Law of Corporations: Nursing Home Law


If you ever think about how you will be cared for as you grow older or are disabled, think about how you educate your children now. Maybe law school should be in their future, even for the doctors and business moguls in the family. Don’t be worried, or even scared — just be prepared, and prepare the people who love you. (Another reason to value our metro area’s Classroom Law Project!)

I used newspaper articles a lot when I taught legal research to law students, today’s article in the Portland Tribune about senior care facilities would have been a great teaching tool, if only to ask the students if they could identify and find all the laws and documents referred to in the article. Tort, corporate, elder, administrative law, and much, much more can be found here:

Senior care center faulted: Verdict exposes wider problems at Avamere, for-profit facilities, by Lee van der Voo and Christian Gaston Pamplin Media Group, The Portland Tribune, Thu, Jun 19, 2008.

(For those of you reading this blog post long after 6/19/08, and who find the links dead: Note about finding old news stories: If a link to a news story doesn’t work, it may be that the news source does not maintain free archives of its back issues. Most public libraries, however, have newspaper databases that can be searched free of charge, often remotely (i.e. from any computer, with your library card). I try to provide enough bibliographic data to enable you to search those newspaper databases and find the exact article you want.)

Excerpts from the article: Senior care center faulted: Verdict exposes wider problems at Avamere, for-profit facilities, by Lee van der Voo and Christian Gaston Pamplin Media Group, The Portland Tribune, Thu, Jun 19, 2008.

‘… Probes uncover violations
… for-profit care providers lately have been under fire nationwide. A Pamplin Media Group investigation has found:

• For-profit nursing homes often provide worse care than their nonprofit counterparts, based on regulatory benchmarks and on citations issued by Oregon state regulators.

• For-profit companies often insulate themselves by creating labyrinthine corporate structures that make it more difficult to sue them….

The findings echoed a 2001 study by researchers for the University of California and Harvard Medical School, which found investor-owned facilities showed deficiencies at a rate 46.5 percent higher than nonprofit facilities and 43 percent higher than public nursing homes in surveys.

The Pamplin Media Group’s own look at three corporate care companies with facilities in the tricounty area — Avamere, Alterra and Marquis Care — showed similar results. The three are the for-profit companies with a large presence of multiple care services in the tricounty area.

The analysis looked at state citations for care violations and injuries at 59 facilities owned by the corporate care groups, five stand-alone for-profit firms and another seven nonprofit facilities.

On average, the corporate care groups earned citations from state investigators at higher rates than that of comparable nonprofit and publicly owned senior care facilities.

Gear said state penalties often aren’t sufficient to curb problems at senior care facilities. She said officials tried unsuccessfully to get the 2008 Legislature to raise license fees and will try again.

“They are significantly lower than the national average and certainly lower than our neighboring states,” Gear said.

“We also proposed raising our penalty fines. … And again, those are significantly lower than most of our surrounding states.”

Corporations tough to pin down

The lawyer for the family of Elvera Stephan spent two years navigating the path through Avamere Health Services’ labyrinthine corporate structure.

Scott Kocher emerged from court with a successful verdict, after a Multnomah County jury awarded more than $900,000 because of Stephan’s treatment at an Avamere Health Services facility in Lake Oswego.

But that was only after Kocher had fought his way through Avamere’s multiple Oregon corporations – 84 of the 105 are still active – ultimately filing suit against eight corporations tied to the Pearl in Lake Oswego.

Kocher’s experience is hardly unusual in the industry.

Critics say for-profit care companies often insulate themselves from liability by creating complex and convoluted corporate structures.”’

(read full article)

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