Arkansas Supreme Court reverses denial of long-term care facility's charitable immunity

By Marian Johns | Apr 17, 2019

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court has reversed and remanded a Jefferson County Circuit Court's decision that denied a long-term care facility's "charitable immunity" in a wrongful death claim. 

According to the April 11 court filing, Davis Nursing Association, doing business as Davis Life Care Center (DLCC), petitioned the court to review the lower court's decision on charitable immunity in a case filed by Gracie Neal as personal representative of Johnny Newborn and on behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries of Johnny Newborn. 

The case involves Neal's 2011 lawsuit filed against DLCC that alleges Newborn suffered bedsores, improper catheter care, multiple urinary tract infections, skin tears, poor hygiene, malnutrition, dehydration and aspiration that led to his death.  

Neal's allegations against DLCC included negligence, medical malpractice, breach of the admission agreement, Long-Term Care Facility's Rights Act violations and breach of provider agreement.  DLCC won a motion claiming charitable immunity, which the appeals court reversed and remanded. A 2016 jury trial then determined DLCC was not entitled to charitable immunity, which the appeals court affirmed. 

The Arkansas Supreme Court found the circuit court "erred" by submitted the charitable immunity question to the jury because it is "a matter of law for the court to decide." 

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