The elderly victim of the assault was a resident of the West Lawrence Care Center in Rockaway, New York who suffered from osteoporosis, arthritis, and bone marrow disease. Due to her ailments, the victim was bedridden at the time of the assault. As such, she was unable to take care of herself on her own and depended on the assistance of nurses and nurse aids at the Rockaway facility.
Marie Jeanty from Queens was working at West Lawrence as a nursing aide. On August 15, 2014, while in the victim’s room, Jeanty was attempting to change the victim’s clothes and sheets. Jeanty became angry with the victim and punched her numerous times on the arm and shoulder. Jeanty then pushed the victim into the bed. The victim’s face smashed against the bed rail. As a result of the assault, the victim’s face and arm swelled, her body was covered in bruises, and she developed a black eye. She was transported to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for treatment.
Jeanty was arrested on Thursday, April 2, 2015 for the assault as part of an investigation conducted by The New York State Office of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which is tasked with investigating neglect and abuse at nursing homes. Jeanty was charged with second degree assault and two counts of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable person. Second degree assault is a Class D violent felony, which faces 1 to 7 years in prison. Endangering the welfare of a vulnerable person can be a Class E or Class D felony, which faces 1 to 7 years in prison.
Following the investigation, Jeanty hired a criminal defense attorney and voluntarily turned herself in to the Office of the Attorney General. She was arraigned in Queens Criminal Courthouse and pled not guilty. The judge released her on her own recognizance.
According to A.G. Schneiderman, “When New Yorkers place those who mean the most to them in a nursing home, they should have confidence that their loved ones are not in danger of severe physical abuse.”
Jeanty alleges that the victim’s story is false. According to Jeanty, she was alone in the room with the victim, and the story alleged by the prosecutor is not accurate. Every defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and it is unclear what information or evidence the Office of the Attorney General has gathered as part of its investigation. Because Jeanty is refuting the allegations, she may reject a plea offer and instead proceed to trial on the charges.
At trial, the prosecutor will be tasked with proving beyond a reasonable doubt that she committed the offenses. If she is convicted, she will be sentenced to jail time. In addition, the victim will also have legal recourse for her injuries. The victim may bring a civil personal injury lawsuit against Jeanty and West Lawrence for the nursing home abuse.
Because the nursing home is paid in part by state Medicaid funds, the state of New York has a vested interest in ensuring that nursing homes are properly caring for their residents and that instances of abuse are swiftly punished. The Office of the Attorney General is the investigative and prosecuting arm of the state, and the Office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit exclusively focuses on organizations such as nursing homes that receive funding from Medicaid. The unit’s investigations involve allegations of medication pilfering, theft from Medicaid funds or residents’ own bank accounts, physical and emotional abuse of residents, and neglect.
If you or a loved one has been abused while in the care of a nursing home, you need to contact the police immediately to press charges. You also need to contact an experienced nursing home attorney to advise you on how to proceed with a potential civil lawsuit. The nursing home attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC have decades of combined experience fighting nursing home injustice.