It is one thing to prove a nursing home was negligent and violated the regulations of Elder Law, resulting in the death of a loved one. It's a whole different matter to collect the award the jury decides you should get.
This is what Elvira Nunziata's son Richard, a St. Petersburg, Fla. resident, has come to realize after being awarded the astronomical sum of $200 million. Elvira Nunziata fell down a stairwell and died in the Pinellas Park Care and Rehab Center in Pinellas, Florida.
This was back in 2004, when 92-year old Elvira was in a wheel-chair and pushed her way through a door and rolled right on down the stairwell that was on the other side of the door. She lay injured for an hour but no one came to assist her. She could possibly have been saved if the nursing home staff had found her earlier.
While the $200 million award is high, nursing homes are no strangers to such incidents and resulting nursing home abuse lawsuits. They have worked out a system where there is no defendant in court to pay out the award. How can that be if the nursing home exists?
Well, that's a shell game of incorporation and legal separation to avoid responsibility for lawsuits. By the time Elvira Nunziata's estate took the matter to court, Trans Health Management Inc. - the nursing home company, did not even legally exist and had given up filing annual reports. There wasn't even a lawyer to defend the nursing home in the lawsuit.
Two shell companies were created (located at the same address as Trans Health and using the same phone number) to divvy up the assets and liabilities. The income the nursing home gets went to Fundamental Administrative Services LLC and the liabilities were taken over by Fundamental Long Term Care Inc.
The latter then promptly ceased to function and disappeared as a registered entity. In short, there was no legal entity left to sue. The whole matter is going to take years to sort out, if ever.