Articles Posted in Settlements

Minnie Pearson was admitted to Carrington Place of St. Charles, a nursing home, after she suffered a stroke. She was in her mid to late 70s when she was admitted. About a month after her admission, a nursing aide, Heather Clark, administered another patient’s hydralazine medicine to Pearson and Pearson became unresponsive and hypotensive.

The nursing home staff tried resuscitation and then called 911. However, Pearson died several months later. She was survived by her four adult children. Hydralazine is known as a vasodilator that works by relaxing the muscles in the patient’s blood vessels to help dilate or widen them. Administration of this drug lowers blood pressure and allows the blood to flow more freely through the patient’s veins and arteries. Hydralazine is used to treat high blood pressure or hypertension.

Pearson did not need this medication.

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The Supreme Court of Rhode Island has held that the release of a master or principal or employer from liability also releases a servant or employee from potential legal liability.

In this case, Michelle Hall sued Tavares Pediatric Center Inc., an assisted living facility, alleging liability for injuries her daughter suffered while being care for there. Before trial, the parties settled. The plaintiff signed a joint tortfeasor release that exempted Tavares agents and employees. The court then dismissed the case.

Later, Hall sued two nurses who provided care to her daughter at the same Tavares Pediatric Center. The nurses moved for summary judgment on the basis that under state law, they and Tavares were a single tortfeasor and, therefore, Tavares released the nurses. The trial court agreed and an appeal was taken.

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In an April/May CBA Record article written by attorney Dmitry N. Feofanov, the options for agreeing to confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements were explained. Too often confidentiality agreements seem to show up in settlement agreements or release documents when no negotiations have been previously entertained. At the very least, if a confidentiality clause is insisted upon by any party to a settled case, the inclusion should be negotiated as part of the consideration.

Mr. Feofanov’s focus was on the ethics rules of professional conduct. What Mr. Feofanov wrote was that confidentiality clauses should be avoided whenever possible and even with the risk that refusal to include confidentiality clauses to the agreement may undo a settled case.

Mr. Feofanov says he refuses to compromise on confidentiality clauses in any way and would not enter into settlement agreements that contain confidentiality clauses.

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