Wednesday, September 14, 2005
It seems like just the other day -- in fact, it was just the other day -- that we were discussing the range of sanctions available against nursing homes that fall below the operational standards required by law. In addition to various license-related actions (reprimand, suspension, revocation), we talked about the pros and cons of civil monetary penalties (intermediate sanctions) and receivership. And what about criminal liability? Rare, I said, unless residents have died, and even then, the departure from the standard of care will probably have to be extreme or repeated enough to suggest a wanton disregard or callous indifference.
Something like that seems to be unfolding in St. Bernard Parish near New Orleans. According to Jurist,
Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti [official website] announced Tuesday he has filed 34 charges of negligent homicide against the husband and wife co-owners of a nursing home in St. Bernard Parish near New Orleans where 34 people drowned [NYT report] in flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive]. Foti said St. Rita's Nursing Home had an evacuation plan that was not implemented even though local officials had set aside buses to pick up the residents, and that the proprietors "didn't follow the standard of care of what a reasonable person would follow." Twenty patients were eventually evacuated from the facility by being floated out on mattresses across half a mile of floodwater; several died during transfer or afterwards. Salvador A. Mangano and Mable Mangano, who were being sought by the AG's office last week [press release], turned themselves in to authorities in Baton Rouge prior to announcement of the charges. AP has more. From New Orleans, the Times-Picayune has local coverage.
In addition to the nursing home case, AP reports that "the attorney general said he is investigating the discovery of more than 40 corpses at flooded-out Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans." [tm]