Supreme Court Upholds Rights of Senior Citizens

Jun 19, 2023

Recent Decision Empowers Families to Seek Justice for Nursing Home Negligence

In a significant ruling on June 8, 2023, the US Supreme Court upheld the legal rights of Medicaid recipients against state-owned nursing homes, granting them the ability to sue states when their rights are violated. The 7-2 decision in the case of HHC v. Talevski affirmed the lower court’s ruling and involved the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC) in Indiana, which operates publicly owned nursing homes. The HHC attempted to prevent a nursing home resident from suing a state-owned agency, arguing that spending clause enactments do not apply to private entities. However, the Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed that private plaintiffs can enforce spending clause enactments through 42 U.S.C. §1983, a statute allowing legal action against individuals acting under state law who violate federal rights.

This ruling has far-reaching implications for Medicaid recipients seeking justice against publicly owned and operated nursing homes. Medicaid provides healthcare coverage to low-income individuals, including nursing home residents, and when states fail to comply with Medicaid requirements or violate spending clause legislation, individuals now have the right to pursue legal action through lawsuits. This ensures that states fulfill their contractual obligations and adhere to federal spending legislation. At our law firm, we possess comprehensive knowledge of the intricate legal landscape surrounding Medicaid-related cases, enabling us to effectively represent clients in their pursuit of justice.

The Supreme Court’s support for private enforcement of spending clause enactments sets a precedent for Medicaid recipients nationwide. It confirms their right to pursue legal action and seek administrative and federal court remedies for alleged violations by nursing homes supported by Medicaid.

Patients and the Nursing Home Reform Act

The case centered around Gorgi Talevski, a dementia patient who entered Valparaiso Care and Rehabilitation, a county-owned nursing home, in 2016. Initially, Talevski was able to communicate, walk, self-feed, and recognize his family. However, within a year, his family noticed a distressing decline in Talevski’s condition. They discovered that the nursing home had subjected him to chemical restraints and attempted to relocate him permanently without informing him or his family. Recognizing the violation of her husband’s civil rights, Talevski’s wife, Ivanka, took legal action against the nursing home and the HHC. The lawsuit was based on the argument that the nursing home’s actions violated Talevski’s rights protected under federal nursing home law. HHC challenged the family’s right to pursue these claims in court. However, the Supreme Court ruled that individuals like Talevski have the right to sue if their civil rights are violated, affirming the enforceability of Section 1983.

Under the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA), nursing homes that accept Medicare or Medicaid are obligated to meet federal quality standards in patient care. These standards, established by the NHRA, aim to protect nursing home residents from abuse, neglect, and substandard care while ensuring their physical, emotional, and social well-being. The NHRA mandates essential services such as dietary, pharmaceutical, social, nursing, and rehabilitation services. Talevski’s case highlights the significance of the NHRA, as his family’s legal action centered on the nursing home’s violation of these federal quality standards and the resulting infringement of Talevski’s rights. The Supreme Court’s recognition of the right to enforce Section 1983 further reinforces the importance of upholding the NHRA and defending the rights of nursing home residents.

Your Rights Affirmed: How this Ruling Affects You

The recent Supreme Court ruling has opened up new possibilities for patients and their families to seek justice in cases involving State-owned nursing homes. At Sarno da Costa D’Aniello Maceri LLC, we are deeply committed to advocating for the rights of individuals affected by nursing home malpractice and elder abuse in these facilities. The Court’s endorsement of the private right to sue publicly owned nursing homes and the decision to support private enforcement of spending clause laws has established a powerful legal framework. This empowers Medicaid recipients to assert their rights and pursue remedies for nursing home malpractice, holding accountable those who have failed to meet federal quality standards.

If you or a loved one has suffered from nursing home malpractice or elder abuse in a nursing home, we encourage you to contact Paul M. da Costa, Esq. without delay at 973-274-5200 or We possess the knowledge and experience to navigate the intricate legal landscape surrounding these cases and will tirelessly work to seek justice on your behalf.