"In a reversal that has stunned the plaintiff bar, the Florida chapter of AARP, the powerful senior lobbying group, has declared its support of caps on pain and suffering damages in abuse and neglect lawsuits against Florida nursing homes." In years past the retirees' group has been an influential foe of limits on nursing home liability, but the state chapter reversed course and decided to strike a compromise with nursing home operators that would trade limits on pain-and-suffering liability in exchange for the industry's agreement to accept new state rules, among them a requirement that facilities maintain assets so that successful litigants can recover liability verdicts. A lobbyist for the Florida chapter "said AARP changed its view after learning that many nursing homes were hiding their assets to avoid liability claims. In addition, many nursing homes have been carrying little or no liability coverage, despite the 2001 law's requirement that all facilities carry coverage." The group's change in course is likely to draw fire from other elements within AARP that remain closely allied with the litigation lobby; it also was criticized by an official of the "Coalition to Protect Florida Elders, a nonprofit organization that is funded by trial lawyer Jim Wilkes." More on Fla. nursing home suits: Mar. 13-14, 2001; Mar. 19, 2003; etc. (Julie Kay, "Unexpected Ally", Miami Daily Business Review, Dec. 17).
[cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Dec. 17, 2004]