After more than three years of deliberation, the Florida Supreme Court has eliminated the right of some survivors of deceased nursing home patients to recover damages for alleged abuse and neglect under the state’s nursing home residents’ bill of rights.

The 4-2 ruling in Knowles v. Beverly Enterprises, issued Dec. 16, applies only to an estimated 600 to 1,500 cases filed before May 15, 2001. That’s when the law was changed to explicitly permit survivors to sue for damages even if the alleged failures in patient care did not directly result in the patient’s death. The majority held that the 2001 statutory change was “of no moment” in considering cases filed before that provision took effect.

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