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June 1st, 2012

Kentucky Legislators’ Failure to Pass Tort Reform Drives Major Nursing Home Provider from State

This past week, a major nursing home chain said it will no longer operate in Kentucky because of increased litigation and the 2012 General Assembly’s failure to pass a law making it more difficult to file lawsuits against nursing homes. 

Extendicare Health Services Inc. will close its doors on July 1, leaving close to 2,000 elders without nursing home care, and Kentucky lawmakers have no one to blame but themselves.  This comes in the wake of legislators’ failure to protect such institutions from frivolous lawsuits.  According to a spokesperson for Extendicare, this decision stems from the company’s continuing strategy involving “the divestiture of operations that impede growth or create undue risk exposure.”  Tim Lukenda, the CEO of Extendicare, said that it was not easy to arrive at this decision, however, it was necessary because of “the combination of a worsening litigation environment and the lack of any likelihood of tort reform in the state of Kentucky.”

As Extendicare vice president Mike Perry poignantly told the Lexington Herald-Leader, “Kentucky has become a battleground for plaintiff attorneys who focus their litigation on {nursing facilities] owned by the largest for-profit companies.”

  Legislators turned their back on business owners, and more importantly the elderly, when they failed to pass H.B. 361.  This bill would have required every potential lawsuit against a nursing home to be reviewed by a panel of medical professionals.  The panel’s finding would have been admissible in court but would not have stopped a plaintiff or family members from taking the case to court.

Longtime Judicial Hellholes readers will recall an astronomically high nursing home verdict in West Virginia last summer, the likes of which Extendicare obvioulsy feared in Kentucky.

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