Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nursing Home Operator Found Guilty: Federal Indictment Brought for Misuse of Funds

(Old) Floyd County Court HouseImage by jimmywayne via Flickr

A Floyd County, Ga., Superior Court jury recently awarded a verdict in favor of Loretta Terhune on behalf of her father as a result of the poor care her father received during the eight months he was a resident at Moran Lake Road Nursing Home in Rome, Ga.

Terhune sued Forum Medical, the company that owned and operated Moran Lake. Her father, Morris Ellison, was malnourished, dehydrated, denied medical care for a broken hip and ultimately died after what was supposed to be a temporary stay as he received post-operative rehabilitative care. He was otherwise in good health.

The facility’s owner, George Houser, a Harvard-educated attorney and member of the Georgia Bar, represented himself at trial, was held in contempt of court for repeated outbursts and filed an emergency bankruptcy motion in the middle of the proceedings. Judge Bryant Durham presided over the weeklong case that, once brought to the attention of the Federal Government, resulted in an indictment against Houser for corruption and misuse of Medicare/Medicaid funds.

Co-lead counsel for the plaintiff was Mike Prieto of Perrotta, Cahn & Prieto, and Stephen Lowry of Harris Penn Lowry. The team walked the jury through compelling evidence of deplorable conditions, underpaid workers, understaffed and underfunded facilities as well as outright neglect and abuse of the elderly that incensed the jury.

“We were able to prove that Mr. Houser, because of his corruption and greed, systematically drained his nursing facilities of essential funds for patient care, leaving the residents and employees to deal with feces-covered walls, no hot water, no food, no clean linens or adult diapers, no medicine nor proper medical equipment – all while enriching himself by using the nursing home account as his own ‘personal banking account,’” said Stephen Lowry of Harris Penn Lowry.

“This verdict made me very proud to be from Rome,” said Mike Prieto of Perrotta, Cahn & Prieto. “Rome is a medical community that takes great pride in their facilities and the quality of care available to all its citizens. This jury sent a message to George Houser, and to any one else who attempts to get rich by providing substandard care to the elderly, that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in this community or in the State of Georgia.”

After the verdict was read, Houser was handcuffed and escorted by the Sheriff’s Deputy to serve 48 hours in jail as a result of being in contempt of court.

Terhune, who had a very close and loving relationship with her father, said, “This was never about the money. I wanted justice for my daddy and to make sure Mr. Houser didn’t have a chance to do this to someone else. It isn’t right.”

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