In the Courts: Court Parses Corporate, Vicarious Liability for a Parent Company for Understaffing

October 20, 2017 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​In a case in which alleged understaffing caused the death of a nursing home resident after a urinary tract infection (UTI), dehydration, malnutrition, and pressure injuries, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has addressed whether theories of direct corporate negligence and vicarious liability may apply to the parent company. The court found that the parent company could not be held liable for direct corporate negligence, given that it was the owner/operator's nondelegable duty to develop and implement policies to ensure quality care. However, the court found that this did not preclude a finding of vicarious liability against the parent company. Therefore, it awarded a new trial for compensatory and punitive damages against the parent company on the theory of vicarious liability.

The resident had been living at the nursing home for nearly six years when she was diagnosed with a UTI. She was treated at a hospital and returned to the nursing home. When she was admitted to the hospital again the following month, her diagnoses included another UTI, dehydration, malnutrition, and pressure injuries. She died of a...

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