In 2007, the Carlyle Group, one of the wealthiest private equity firms in the world, purchased ManorCare, the second largest nursing home chain in the country.  A recent investigation by the Washington Post details how the purchase made ManorCare a for-profit business that prioritized financial return for investors at the expense ManorCare’s 25,000 patients.  The results were devastating.  As the Post investigation revealed, in the years following the purchase, health code violations rose by 26 percent.  Serious violations, which can be categorized as issues placing a patient in “immediate jeopardy” increased by 29%.  The nursing homes were chronically understaffed by nurses.  This past March, ManorCare filed for bankruptcy.

Behind each of these violations is a human being with a real story.  The Post investigation details several and each are heartbreaking.  They include stories of patients left unclothed with visible bedsores and infections; limited mobility patients forced to walk unaided due to lack of staff who would fall and suffer fractures or brain hemorrhages; and patients who “were so poorly staffed that some residents regularly soiled themselves while waiting for help to the bathroom.”  We all have loved ones who currently or in the future may require, skilled nursing care.  It is vital for family members to have faith and trust in the care providers.  The unacceptable situation at ManorCare highlights a scary trend where regulations failed, and actual harm resulted.  Continue reading

If you have State Farm automobile insurance, check your policy.  A recent investigation by a Louisville, Kentucky television station revealed alarming concerns: multiple policyholders are finding that they coverage they thought they had and thought they paid for was not in fact included on their policy. And subsequently, when the policyholders questioned State Farm about this discrepancy and demanded to see their policy documents State Farm claimed they signed, the policyholders found their signatures were forged.

Across television, radio and the internet, Illinois headquartered State Farm claims that “like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”  But this is a story where actions speak louder than words.  If the allegations raised by WAVE3 News and a parallel lawsuit are true, the actions of Chicago’s corporate neighbor are anything but good. Continue reading

At Leopold & Associates, almost all of our cases deal with fighting insurance companies.  Insurance companies are paid premiums to provide coverage, reimbursement and protection to people when things go wrong.  We all know mistakes happen and we all also hope to be covered by insurance to help guard against the unforeseeable.  Sometimes that can be reimbursement for medical expenses after a car accident or coverage for future medical care if a doctor makes a mistake. At its most basic, we carry health insurance to guard against catastrophic medical expenses such as a serious injury or cancer diagnosis.  We count on the insurance that we, or an employer, pays for to cover those expenses.  When an insurance company denies you coverage, trying to fight for your benefits you are entitled to while battling an injury or illness, can feel like fighting the weight of the world.

Last week, in a story similar tof John Grisham’s fictional book, and later movie, The Rainmaker, Aetna, one of the largest health insurance companies in the country was hit with a $25.5 million dollar verdict for denying lifesaving cancer treatment to an Oklahoma woman.  As CNN reported, in 2014 Orrana Cunningham, was diagnosed with stage 4 nasopharyngeal cancer near her brain stem.  Doctors wanted to treat the cancer with proton beam therapy, a common form of radiation.  Aetna denied the claim arguing that this treatment was “experimental.”  Orrana died of complications from the cancer in 2015 at the age of 54. Continue reading

Snow.  Hardly surprising given that it is winter in Chicago.  Once the snow covers the sidewalks, it can make daily routines such as walking to the CTA, Metra or bus more challenging.  This is especially true when residents do not shovel their sidewalks.  In Chicago, shoveling is not just the neighborly thing to do, it is also the law. Continue reading

One area of law that we often get many questions about is the quality of care a loved one receives in a nursing home or rehabilitation center.  The concerns appear to be valid.  As the New York Times recently reported, since 2013 federal records reveal that nearly 40% of nursing homes have been cited for serious violations of patient care.  The Times article notes that “common citations include failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores.”  Sadly, the article also concludes that the government is not doing its part to appropriately monitor and enforce safety guidelines designed to protect patients.  Continue reading

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed major legislation repealing many important reforms created by the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.  This new bill, was passed before many legislators had an opportunity to read the text, and before receiving any cost and coverage analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”).  The bill fundamentally alters America’s health insurance system.  The new law will impact approximately one-sixth of the nation’s economy and early projections from the scoring of previous bills estimate that as many as 24 million Americans could lose health insurance coverage.  The law also affects other popular Obamacare regulations such as a ban on insurance companies placing lifetime caps on an insured’s care or denying of coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The attorneys at Leopold & Associates find many of these changes unconscionable.  The impact on many residents in our Chicago community could literally be the difference between life and death.  In addition to these concerns, we are also worried about proposals being floated within the new law that will substantially affect patient’s ability to seek justice when doctors or hospitals violate basic safety rules that seriously impact the patient’s life and the lives of their families.  We are concerned about the effect on quality of care, quality of safety measures and the ability for a patient to seek fairness and justice against a medical corporation.  But, as the saying goes, you don’t have to take our word for it.  Recently, the highly respected New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial from doctors at Stanford University and Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital highly critical of these proposed “malpractice reforms.” Continue reading

Our practice focuses on medical errors and their impact on our client’s lives and the lives of their families. Oftentimes, these cases stem from care received at a hospital or a doctor’s office. However, medical errors can happen in all branches of medicine. Today, we examine that quite literally by looking at medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. While we often take for granted prescriptions we receive from our local pharmacy, it seems as though there has been a recent increase in pharmaceutical errors that can sometimes lead to life-threatening problems.

This morning’s New York Times focused on one shocking tragedy; the trial of Barry J. Cadden. Mr. Cadden is the owner and head pharmacist of the New England Compounding Center. The trial stems from what the Times describes as “one of the worst public health crises in the nation’s history.” In 2012, a number of medications manufactured by the New England Compounding Center became tainted leading to an outbreak of meningitis and other serious infections. The outbreak affected more than 700 people and sadly killed 64 people. Hundreds of other patients now live with constant, terminal pain that affects many aspects of their everyday life. Continue reading

On Friday, January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. Once inaugurated, he will join with the 115th Congress, sworn in earlier this month, to create the first, entirely Republican government in Washington DC in more than ten years. As this new government takes shape, it is expected to enact many new policies, laws and regulations that will have a lasting impact on the judicial system here in Chicago. This blog post attempts to look at three key areas where Republicans may hope to reshape policy in the coming year. Continue reading

Earlier this year, we documented the successful effort to raise the limit capping compensation, reimbursement for medical bills and pain and suffering in Indiana for medical malpractice lawsuits. As a plaintiff’s litigation firm, we make our concern for these limits no secret as they impact the ability for people, injured through no fault of their own, to receive fair and adequate compensation for their injury. We have seen far too many tragic cases where victims in states with such caps face financial ruin because they are unable to be compensated for astronomical medical bills or worse, are unable to pay for the basic and necessary care that their injuries now require. The battle over these caps, and their constitutionality in our justice system, is playing out in states across the country. Today we look at the most recent battle that is taking place in the state of Florida, which has come to a head with a recent ruling this past month. Continue reading

Earlier this summer we wrote about Chicago’s expanded use of bicycle lanes and trails as well as bicycle safety and the steps to take if you are involved in a bike accident. It is wonderful to see Chicago investing in bike paths and expanding its reputation as a bike friendly city. In fact, Chicago now has more than 290 miles of designated bike lanes. However, this expansion and increased ridership has recently brought bicycle safety to the urefront of public discussion. Just last week, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial lamenting that bicycle accidents, injuries and even fatalities are on the rise.

The statistics speak for themselves. The Tribune notes that since June, four bike riders have lost their lives in collisions between bicycles and automobiles. These accidents are not confined to a single area but span points as far west as Garfield Park to the Oak Street Beach lakefront. In fact, in 2014, there were 1,663 crashes between vehicles and bicycles, which represents a 27% increase over the number of similarly reported crashes in 2005. Likewise, fatalities are also on the rise. Continue reading