Four Charged in Deaths of 12 Nursing Home Residents
In what police are calling an “accident that should have never happened”, 12 residents died of heatstroke after the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills lost power during the storm in 2017. Now, four individuals who are thought to be mainly responsible for the deaths will face criminal charges. These include the former administrator of the facility, a night nursing supervisor, and two nurses.
Jorge Carballo and Sergo Colins were each charged with 12 counts of felony aggravated manslaughter. Tamika Tory Miller was charged with 6 counts of felony aggravated manslaughter and tampering with evidence. Althea Kenesha Meggie was charged with 2 counts of felony aggravated manslaughter and tampering with evidence.
In September of 2017, Hurricane Irma struck cutting power to the facility which was carrying 140 patients at the time. Police were called to the facility and found three patients who were already dead and many more in various states of medical distress. The conditions inside the facility were sweltering, police said, and the staff never took any action to evacuate their patients. They found one patient who had a temperature of 107℉. A medical examiner ruled that each of the twelve deaths were homicides and that the victims died of heatstroke.
The staff charged with these crimes are expected to fight the charges. Police said more charges were likely, but only after they were asked why the owner of the nursing home wasn’t also being charged.
Civil Lawsuits Against the Facility
The potential civil suits will have the likely outcome of burying the company in debt. They will be required to pay out on 12 wrongful death actions and an untold number of injuries. In a case like this, where the negligence was so egregious as to display a casual indifference to the rights and safety of others, punitive damages seem likely.
This a lawsuit where negligence will be easy to prove. The nursing home failed to adequately prepare for the possibility of a power outage when everyone knew that a hurricane was imminent. Additionally, a medical examiner has already ruled that the cause of death in each of the twelve cases was heatstroke. This means that the nursing home’s negligence directly caused twelve deaths.
Owner Faced Fraud Charges
The owner of the facility, Jack Michel, was accused of committing fraud against federal and state health care providers. He was required to settle this charge with a $15.4 million fine. A second defendant, Phillip Esformes has also been indicted in “the largest Medicare fraud case in history.”
Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys Fight for You
In cases of egregious neglect, grieving loved ones generally have only one recourse: To sue for money damages. In this case, criminal charges have also been filed and these cases could pave the way for civil suits that will follow. Because the criminal suit takes precedence, it could be several years before the civil cases move forward. If you or someone you love has been treated with criminal negligence in a nursing home, talk to the Vero Beach nursing home abuse lawyers at Vocelle & Berg, LLP immediately. We can help.