Lawsuit over contributions gets settled outside court

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					    NEWS | Legal Matters

                       THE LEGAL EXPERT
                                                      Lawsuit over contributions
                       John Durso, Esq.
                       Ungaretti & Harris LLP
                                                      gets settled outside court
  Two residents (not a married couple)                BY JAMES M. BERKLAN
  have been discovered having sex. What               A legal imbroglio that put nurs-
  should I do? Should we create some                  ing homes in the spotlight of a
  pertinent policies? Should I (or any-               Texas campaign financing con-
  one) call a lawyer?                                 troversy in 2002 ended well for
                                                      providers, according to a
  Sex and intimate relationships between              spokesman.
  non-married residents in a long-term care             The Alliance for Quality
  setting can be a difficult and dynamic issue        Nursing Home Care was one of
  for residents, residents’ family members            a handful of defendants that set-

                                                                                                                                                                             Photo: Erin Killian
  and facility staff to resolve together.             tled out of court with
    Residents have privacy rights, including          Democratic plaintiffs who
  the right to consensual sexual relationships        claimed that corporate dona-
  with other residents. Facilities have the           tions were illegally used to defeat
  often-conflicting duties of respecting resi-        them on Election Day.                  Former Mariner CEO C. Christian Winkel became a focus of controversy after he
                                                        Alliance President Alan              handed a $100,000 check to a Texas political interest group.
  dents’ privacy rights and protecting resi-
  dents’ safety. Family members have a right          Rosenbloom said a trial court
  to be involved in the care of their loved           entered summary judgments on           all courts have said it was legal,”      ed off by then-CEO of Mariner
  ones. None of these rights is overriding.
                                                      all counts in favor of the defen-      Rosenbloom told McKnight’s.              Health Care C. Christian Winkel,
                                                      dants and that the Alliance               At $300,000, the Alliance tied        according to the Austin Ameri-
    A facility must balance residents’ privacy
                                                      entered a sealed settlement last       as the largest donor among               can-Statesman newspaper, which
  interests with its obligation to provide a
                                                      month with the plaintiffs to           those solicited to help raise $1.7       recently updated the story.
  safe environment for all its residents, while       avoid potentially costly appeals       million. The goal was to help               The funds went toward mail-
  including family members in the process.            and “nuisance” claims.                 elect the first Republican major-        ings that were coordinated with
  Having policies in place to address sexual            “From our perspective, we            ity in the Texas House in more           Texans for a Republican Major-
  relations between residents makes it easier         made a political contribution          than 100 years.                          ity, a group headed by former
  for a facility to manage these relationships        entirely legally and got caught up        The nursing Alliance money            U.S. House Majority Leader
  when they inevitably arise.                         in claims that it was legal. So far,   included a $100,000 check hand-          Tom De
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