Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a long-stagnant bill on Wednesday allowing nursing home patients’ legal representatives or estates to sue for injuries under New York’s Public Health Law. The legislation had stalled prior to the COVID pandemic but was reinvigorated after the tragic deaths of 16,000 nursing home COVID-related deaths.
Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, sponsored the original bill 15 years ago.
Gottfried, who has served since 1970, but is not seeking re-election in November, noted that following massive scandals of fraud and abuse in nursing homes in 1975, Public Health Law §2801-d was enacted to give patients the right to sue for damages and other relief.
This private right of action increased patient’s ability to enforce their right to adequate treatment and care, but offered no recourse to families once the patient had died, or became unable to initiate a suit on his or her own behalf.
The new law will give families of nursing home residents as well as their advocates a voice for justice and ensure that abuse and neglect of nursing home residents, who often can’t fend for themselves, representation in the court system.