< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: Louisiana Nursing Home Owners Charged

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Louisiana Nursing Home Owners Charged

The owners of a nursing home where 34 people died after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana where charged with multiple counts of negligent homicide on Tuesday. Investigators are also looking at similar cases and as more charges will probably follow. Read the entire article here. I wonder what the law says in the case of public officials, could citizens sue for the negligence of local and federal officials? With the FEMA and local response as bad as it was, I would be interested to know what is possible/likely, maybe a law student could post a comment informing the blog.

--Tom Hayes


Blogger ICHR said...

Negligence has four elements that must be proven for liability:

1. duty or obligation on the part of the defendant

2. breach of that duty

3. causality: the breach must have caused the subsequent damages

4. there must be actual damages

No problem proving 4. Whether or not even FEMA had a "duty" beyond responding as fast as they did is debatable. There was clearly a duty to act, and they did. The issue would be whether they acted unreasonably slow or not, given all the circumstances. Due to the circumstances - the severity, the novelty of it all - I can't see any actionable "duty" arising out of this mess, but that's up for debate. If there was a duty, breach naturally follows. Causality is the rub. It would be close to impossible to prove causality by a preponderance of the evidence. Did FEMA initiate the flooding? No. Did FEMA design the dam that ruptured? No. Did FEMA's delay "cause" any single individual his or her suffering? That would be pretty tough to establish.

It's pretty much a shot in the dark, but the moral point is valid: these guys blew it and blew it big time. They were asked to respond to the unthinkable, prepare for the unimaginable, and they didn't. Personally, I don't like seeing litigation used to resolve a mess of this sort. This is a tragedy without assignable fault.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Prophet Fire & Audra Mairead said...

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4:36 AM  

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