Daily Business Review: Elder-Abuse Plaintiffs Attorneys Weigh In After Nursing Home Deaths

Daily Business Review
By: Celia Ampel
Daily Business Review
September 15, 2017

Elder-law attorneys were quick to weigh in Thursday on the legal implications of eight deaths at a Hollywood nursing home following a loss of air conditioning during Hurricane Irma.

Any need for regulatory reform will be determined by the facts as they emerge, said Fort Lauderdale attorney Jonathan Gdanski of Schlesinger Law Offices. Key questions, he said, would include the following: What steps, if any, were taken to transport nursing home residents? Was the facility monitoring the deterioration of patients over time? And what plans were in place to help those who needed assistance the most?

“?Some of the most basic facts still need to be determined, yet what is already known seems to present a clear picture of absolute, complete, reprehensible conduct, which resulted in death,” said Gdanski, a plaintiffs lawyer focused on catastrophic personal injury and medical malpractice.

Meanwhile, he said, “the large majority” of caregivers across the state appear to have been adequately cautious in the face of the storm.

More than 150 residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were evacuated to hospitals Wednesday. Three people were already dead when first responders arrived, and five more died that afternoon. Gov. Rick Scott called the deaths “unfathomable,” and state and local authorities have started a criminal investigation.

The nursing home’s administrator, Jorge Carballo, said in a statement that the facility was “cooperating fully with relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate and tragic outcome.”

Broward County reported the nursing home told officials Tuesday the air conditioning was out but did not request help, according to the Associated Press. The facility complied with a state law requiring an evacuation plan and hurricane drills.

“I have been litigating nursing abuse cases throughout Florida for years and this is the worst case I have seen,” said Fort Lauderdale attorney Marcus Susen of Koch Parafinczuk Wolf Susen.

The Hollywood nursing home seems to be an outlier rather than an example of a systemic problem, said Miami attorney Bruce Katzen of Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine.

“I believe our existing regulatory scheme is sufficient to administer nursing home and rehabilitation facilities,” said Katzen, whose practice includes elder abuse cases. “However, the existing regulatory system needs to be enforced. This facility apparently had a long list of violations.”

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Best Lawyers 2018 Recognition

On the heels of the recent Chambers USA recognition, Kluger Kaplan and many of its attorneys have been once again recognized among the best in their field by the international publication, Best Lawyers®. The attorneys were selected by votes from a peer group, based on an exhaustive evaluation. 83,000 industry leading attorneys are eligible to vote (from around the world) every year.

Best Lawyers 2018

The specific attorneys recognized by Best Lawyers are:

    • Deborah S. Chames
      • Family Law
    • Abbey L. Kaplan
      • Commercial Litigation
      • Entertainment Law – Motion Pictures and Television
      • Litigation – Mergers and Acquisitions
      • Litigation – Real Estate
    • Bruce A. Katzen  
      • Securities / Capital Markets Law
    • Alan J. Kluger  
      • Commercial Litigation
      • Litigation – Banking and Finance
      • Litigation – Real Estate
    • Todd A. Levine
      • Litigation – Real Estate
    • Philippe Lieberman
      • Commercial Litigation
    • Jason Marks
      • Family Law
    • Steve I. Silverman
      • Commercial Litigation

 Minneapolis, MN

  • Daniel N. Rosen
    • Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law

 

Based entirely on peer review, the methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

Founding Member Alan Kluger said, “this recognition is yet another proud moment for the firm. The number of attorneys recognized again and again demonstrates the depth and expertise of our team, and the dedication to our clients.”

KKSKL Welcomes New Associate, Jordan Ziegler

The KKSKL team is proud to announce the addition of Jordan Ziegler to our commercial litigation practice. “Jordan demonstrates a passion for the law and client advocacy, and we look forward to having him on our team,” said Alan Kluger, founding member. Read more below about Jordan and the experience he brings to the firm and its clients.

Click here to welcome him to our team.

Jordan ZieglerJordan graduated from the University of Florida Levin College of Law as a member of the Legal Honor’s Society and the Teaching Assistant for Advanced Trial Practice. During law school, he served as a legal intern for Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and as a legal intern for Senior Judge Paul C. Huck of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Prior to law school, Jordan worked with O’Quinn Stumphauzer & Sloman P.L. on white-collar criminal actions, federal regulatory investigations, and health care fraud actions. He graduated with honors from Tufts University with a B.A. in Economics and Spanish, and a concentration in Biomedical Engineering. Outside of the office, Jordan competes in Ironman competitions and enjoys portrait photography.

Castellanos v. Next Door Co.: Assuring Reasonable Compensation for Workers’ Compensation Attorneys and their Clients

By James Diamond

In April 2016, the Florida Supreme Court issued an important ruling in Castellanos v. Next Door Co., significantly impacting Florida’s workers’ compensation statute.  The high court struck down the fixed amount of attorneys’ fees that successful workers’ compensation claimants are entitled to under Fla. Stat. § 440.34 on due process grounds, opening the possibility for successful workers’ compensation claimants to obtain increased attorneys’ fees awards.

Prior to the Castellanos decision, Section 440.34(1) strictly limited successful claimants’ recovery of attorneys’ fees based upon the amount of workers’ compensation benefits obtained. Specifically, a judge of compensation claims (“JCC”)—a judge responsible for adjudicating disputes over workers compensation benefits—could only award attorneys’ fees in an amount not exceeding 20% of the first $5,000.00 of the benefits secured, 15% of the next $5,000.00 of benefits, 10% of the remaining amount of the benefits secured to be provided during the first 10 years after the date the claim is filed, and 5% of the benefits secured after 10 years. Furthermore, Section 440.34(1) created an irrebuttable presumption that precluded consideration of whether the statutory attorneys’ fee award was reasonable.

Kluger balance Continue reading

The Wrongful Act Doctrine: Recovering Third-Party Litigation Expenses as Damages

Authored by James Diamond and Richard I. Segal

Florida follows the “American Rule” on the entitlement to attorney’s fees, in that attorney’s fees generally are not recoverable as an element of damages in the absence of statutory authority or a contractual agreement. However, civil litigators throughout Florida should be aware of a powerful yet somewhat unknown exception to that general rule – the Wrongful Act Doctrine.

The Wrongful Act Doctrine permits “a plaintiff to recover third-party litigation expenses as special damages where the defendant’s wrongful act caused the plaintiff to litigate with a third party.” More specifically, the Doctrine provides that “[w]here the wrongful act of the defendant has involved the claimant in litigation with others, and has placed the claimant in such relation with others as makes it necessary to incur expenses to protect its interests, such costs and expenses, including reasonable attorney’s fees upon appropriate proof, may be recovered as an element of damages.” Continue reading