Supreme Courts Hears Nursing Home Case



The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a nursing home abuse case that could determine whether nursing home patients and residents of assisted living facilities are able to file lawsuits against state-run facilities. The case, Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski, concerns a nursing home resident who allegedly suffered injuries as a result of elder abuse and neglect at the state-run facility where he was living. The patient’s wife filed a lawsuit against the facility. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in order to determine whether a plaintiff can file a civil claim against a state-run facility that is alleged to have violated the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 (FNHRA).


The case is complex, but it could have far-reaching consequences for long-term care facility residents in New York. What do you need to know about the case and the possible consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling? Consider the following information from our New York nursing home negligence lawyers.


Details of the Talevski Case


In order to understand the potential implications of Talevski on future nursing home negligence litigation across the country, it is important to learn more about the case itself. The nursing home resident in the lawsuit, Gorgi Talevski, a dementia patient, resided at a nursing home facility in Indiana. At that facility, his family argues in the lawsuit, the nursing home violated the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 by using chemical restraints, making an involuntary transfer of the patient, and attempting an involuntary discharge of the patient. Talevski was also receiving care at the facility through Medicaid as a Medicaid enrollee.


The family filed a civil lawsuit against the facility under Section 1983, which allows an individual to sue a state employee and other parties who are acting “under color of state law” for violations of civil rights. This law is not a law that provides a person with certain civil rights, but rather it is a law that allows a person to enforce their civil rights under legislation like the FNHRA.


The district court dismissed the case, ruling that a Medicaid enrollee like Talevski is not able to enforce the FMHRA. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision in favor of Talevski, and the facility appealed to the Supreme Court. As an article from the Kaiser Family Foundation clarifies, there are two key issues that the Supreme Court will need to decide:


  • Whether individuals can file civil lawsuits in federal court to protect their rights as Medicaid enrollees (and potentially other rights established through other laws that have been created under the Spending Clause, such as the Children’s Health Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)); and

  • Whether an individual’s FNHRA rights are enforceable through a Section 1983 claim.


Potential Implications of Talevski


Depending upon how the Supreme Court rules, the Talevski case could affect a New York resident’s right to sue for nursing home negligence in the future. If the Court finds that the plaintiff does not have the right to sue as a Medicaid enrollee, or if the court finds that an individual cannot enforce their rights under FNHRA, such rulings would limit future nursing home negligence claims.


While nursing home abuse and neglect would continue to violate state and federal laws, the ability of injured nursing home residents to enforce their rights would be sufficiently limited or curtailed.


Contact a Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer in New York


If you have questions about filing a nursing home abuse claim in New York, one of our New York nursing home negligence attorneys can assist you. Contact Leitner Varughese, PLLC, for more information.



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