North Carolina Court Upholds Dismissal of Nursing Home Abuse Claim for Failure to Name the Correct Defendant

Nursing home abuse victims face some of the most painful physical and emotional injuries. Although the criminal authorities can choose to investigate an incident of nursing home abuse, the victim can also bring a civil claim against his or her abuser to recover compensation for his or her injuries. As seasoned North Carolina nursing home abuse attorneys, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to ensure that you are treated fairly and respectfully during this painful and stressful situation.

In a recent case, the North Carolina Court of Appeals considered a claim in which the plaintiff appealed from a dismissal of her complaint alleging that a nursing home facility was responsible for injuries that her mother received while her mother was in the facility’s care. The lower court dismissed her action on the basis that she did not name the right defendant in the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, the facility where the mother was admitted for respite care attempted to move her using a lift. The plaintiff alleged that the facility was negligent in operating the lift, causing her mother to suffer injuries. In her complaint, however, the plaintiff named another company as the defendant. Instead of answering the complaint, the named defendant filed a motion to dismiss and provided information seeking judicial notice of public records showing that it did not own or operate the facility. The documents were the business organization papers for the company that did own the facility.

The appellate court started by reviewing the standard for motions to dismiss, which requires a court to dismiss a complaint where there is a fact that defeats the plaintiff’s claim. The documents that the named defendant pointed to established that the facility was owned by another company, thereby defeating the plaintiff’s action against the named defendant. A party cannot be held responsible for a tortious act that occurred at a business where it does not have custody, control, or involvement.

In response, the plaintiff argued that there was some possibility that the named defendant acted negligently, but the court rejected this theory on the basis that its job is not to grant relief on “any theory” that may support recovery for a party. The court cannot speculate as to how a party may be involved in an action, which is why ensuring that the complaint is well-written and includes the key facts is so important.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a nursing home, such as sexual abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse, or physical abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. Going up against large companies can be daunting especially if it involves a complicated web of different companies and entities. Maurer Law will assist you with every step of the process, including identifying the appropriate parties to name in your action. Our team of compassionate legal professionals offers a free consultation to help you learn more about your potential claim and how we may be able to help you. Call us at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

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