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Charges in Florida Hurricane Nursing Home Deaths

  • September 16, 2019
  • KBA Attorneys
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Hurricane Irma swept through Florida in 2017, and 12 elderly patients died after power was knocked out at the nursing home where they resided. Nearly two years later, four employees have been charged in the deaths.


Employees Charged With Aggravated Manslaughter

One of the four, Althia Meggie, age 36, lives in Broward County and surrendered to law enforcement after she and three other employees received a notification “that charges were being brought,” said her attorney, Lawrence Hashish, when speaking with Fox News. Mr. Hashish said his client was a per diem nurse at the facility and was requested to work due to a shortage of help at the nursing home in the wake of the hurricane. Meggie was charged with two counts of tampering with or fabricating evidence and two charges of aggravated manslaughter.

Of the four people charged, three of them voluntarily surrendered to police in Hollywood, Florida. Meggie’s attorney said some of the individuals will be facing up to 12 counts of aggravated manslaughter each. All four of the individuals were employees of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills when the deaths occurred.

The fourth person who has been charged is not represented by Hashish but is in the custody of law enforcement in Miami-Dade County. The individual is a nurse, age 31, and is in jail in that county. The individual has been charged with evidence tampering and aggravated manslaughter. Law enforcement officers with the North Miami Beach Police Department arrested the nurse based on a warrant that was issued in Broward County, Fox News reported. 

Negligent Nursing Home Staff

Within days after Irma ravaged the area in September 2017, patients began dying after the power was knocked out at their nursing home. Twelve deaths were ruled as homicides from heat exposure, and two additional residents lost their lives from causes determined not to be heat-related, according to the Sun Sentinel.

According to investigators, nursing home workers did not evacuate residents when temperatures inside the facility soared, even though there is a fully functioning hospital right across the street from the nursing home. Fire Lt. Amy Parrinello of the Hollywood Fire-Rescue reported that one patient’s temperature was a staggering 107.5 degrees, and another resident’s body temperature was so high that it could not even be measured.

The facility’s license was suspended within days of the storm, and the nursing home later closed. Jorge Carballo, age 62, was the home’s administrator at the time and has also been charged. He is reported to be one of the three individuals who surrendered to law enforcement. According to court records, he is facing 12 counts of aggravated manslaughter. James Cobb, Carballo’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment from news reporters, but he told the Associated Press that Carballo and other nursing home administrators had been repeatedly told before the hurricane hit that they could contact former Governor Rick Scott for help via his personal cellphone. Attorney Cobb said his client and the administrators called Scott five times, but never got a response. Cobb says administrators “sat there languishing, waiting for the cavalry to come… they never ever came.”

Scott, now a United States Senator, said in a prepared statement that the facility should have called 911. “Nothing can hide the fact that this healthcare facility failed to do their basic duty to protect life. We took steps in Florida to protect our most vulnerable, including requiring all nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have emergency backup power, to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again.”

Contact a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawyer

Nursing home residents across the nation are suffering from negligent staff who are not qualified to be caregivers and were not properly trained. Many care facilities are run by large corporations more concerned with profits than the health of residents. As a result, residents are put at a high risk of injury and death. Nursing homes have an obligation to provide a safe and caring living environment for their residents, but when they fail to meet these expectations legal action is necessary. Filing a claim against a care facility that caused a loved one’s death will not only bring justice to your family, but it will also show other facilities that carelessness will not go unpunished.

The nursing home abuse lawyers at KBA Attorneys want to help the families of residents who have died because of negligent care. Our legal team has years of experience in handling wrongful death cases and will help you through the entire litigation process. We know that no amount of money can be placed on a loved one’s life, but the compensation from a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit may help give your family financial assistance.

Contact us for a free case evaluation.


References

Talia Kaplan. “Florida nursing home employees charged with aggravated manslaughter in patient deaths during Hurricane Irma”, Fox News, https://www.foxnews.com/us/florida-nursing-home-hurricane-irma-employees-aggravated-manslaughter-charges. Accessed September 4, 2019.