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Tampa nursing home arbitrators sued for cheating

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County suggests arbitrators in a nursing home dispute may have allowed lawyers for John Knox Village of Tampa Bay to cheat in the proceedings.

Geraldine Green-Young passed away April 30, 2014 at Kindred Hospital in Tampa as a result of sepsis resulting from several open wounds. Her daughter and designated personal representative over her estate, Tesha Green, entered into arbitration with John Knox Village arguing her mother had passed away as a result of complications surfacing from un-reported bedsores.

As part of the arbitration process, Green and her attorneys as well as attorneys for the nursing home were required to submit through discovery any documents they planned to present during arbitration proceedings.

Based on documentation filed along with Green’s lawsuit, both party’s did so.

However, attorneys for John Knox Village also submitted a “secret document” written by an outside medical expert outlining an alternative cause of Young’s death.

The expert opinion was delivered by Dr. Inna Sheyner. Dr. Sheyner completed her fellowship in geriatric medicine at the University of South Florida in 2000.

She outlined a timeline of medical problems documented in Young’s medical records from the hospitalization that prompted a two-month stay at John Knox Village and the one-month that followed up to her death. Her evaluation pointed to complications and wounds resulting from alcohol-related illness including liver disease.

Based on her written medical testimony, Young’s soars were not “pressure ulcers,” the medical term for bedsores, therefore Green’s claims that her mother passed away as a result of complications from unreported bedsores would be invalid.

Instead, Green is arguing the written medical testimony should not have been accepted into the arbitration process because it was not released during discovery.

She is seeking damages to pay for arbitration costs and to have the arbitration ruling in favor of John Knox Village overturned.

The lawsuit alleges that John Knox Village attorney Kelly Jo Lamb broke procedural rules by submitting the document to arbitrators and that arbitrators broke the rules by accepting it. However, Green is only suing the arbitrators, not Lamb.

Based on the document provided potentially in error, Young had a documented medical history of related medical problems pointing to alcohol-related medical emergencies. The evidence, including one indication by a doctor who saw Young before her death that the bedsores were not actually bedsores, is damning for Green’s case that John Knox Village contributed to Young’s death.

But because the attorneys did not disclose that document during discovery, they face having it thrown out. The question that will be before the courts will ultimately be whether attorneys for the defendant were obligated to provide the “secret document.”

Lamb argued the document was “work product” and disclosure was not required.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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