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