In the News


Allstate Suit Claims Florida TBI Patients Washed Cars for Therapy –

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR)

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR) based in Hardee County in Wauchula, scrambled for answers in the summer of 2012 after multiple videos portraying staffers beating disabled patients were released as part of a Bloomberg investigational report. The report prompted a surprise inspection of the facility by officials from three Florida regulatory agencies.

Allstate Corp., the US’ second largest auto insurer, filed a suit in US District Court in Tampa. Allstate’s suit sought to recoup $7.6 million paid to FINR to treat its claimants, and also alleges triple damages under federal racketeering laws and other costs. The lawsuit is based on the main premise that the brain-injury facility “warehoused” patients by keeping them in residential care much longer than medically necessary in order to maintain a flow of revenues from insurance benefits.

Allstate’s suit sought to reclaim benefits it had paid for patients referred to FINR from the state of Michigan. Michigan mandates unlimited lifetime medical benefits for automobile accident injuries.

In the suit Allstate alleges that Michigan patients were targeted by an aggressive marketing campaign promising potential patients a vast selection of services and amenities that were never provided. Patients were seldom allowed to go outside, a pool pictured in brochures was filled in with cement, and most patients did not get to visit any of the nearby lakes, also promised and picture in brochures.

For vocational training, many of the patients were assigned to washing cars belonging to FINR employees. Another patient with an interest in wood-working, claimed that he would be given wood blocks to sand for hours at a time, after which the blocks were discarded by staffers.

The lawsuit also alleges that in some cases, patients should have never been admitted to the facility in the first place, corroborated by the state of Florida’s order to remove nearly 50 patients issued just days earlier.




swope-rodante-against-FINR-Rehab-AbuseTampa Attorneys Swope Rodante Help Family to Victory in Wrongful Death Suit against FINR –

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR)

The Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR) has faced a litany of well-publicized abuse claims, injury lawsuits, and wrongful death suits after 12+ years of allegations of assaults on brain injured patients in the Wauchula based facility. The Florida Department of Children and Families has received over 500 complaints of abuse or neglect against FINR since 2005.

Of the known cases of alleged abuse at FINR, one stands out as the only court-awarded wrongful death settlement directly connected to abuse at the center. Attorney Lisha Bowen, of Tampa law firm Swope-Rodante P.A., represented family members of the late FINR resident Michael Lieux, an ex-marine with TBI. A Wauchula court tried the wrongful death case and jurors found that FINR staffers were negligent in causing the death of a brain-injured patient. The family was awarded $5 million after facility employees pinned Lieux face down, causing his death by positional asphyxiation (suffocation).

Swope, Rodante attorney Lisha Bowen’s involvement and profound knowledge of brain injury and wrongful death cases has made her a leader in the investigation of the negligent acts that have been committed at FINR.

In the wake of the suit’s success, two additional resident deaths in 2005 lead to confidential, out-of-court settlements by FINR with family members alleging separate claims of wrongful deaths at the center.


Brain and Spinal Cord (.org)


elderly-abusedRecent Report finds Elderly are Abused in 1 of 3 Nursing Homes –

On July 30th, congress released the results of study on nursing home abuse and neglect. Reports ranging from minor resident to resident violence (RRV), such as  slapping, through claims of sexual molestation and broken noses of patients at the hands of nursing home staff.  More common problems were associated with untreated bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration, preventable accidents (falls), and inadequate sanitation and hygiene, according to the report.

The report was prepared by the minority (Democratic and Independent) staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee. Committee leader, Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), said “What we have found is shocking.”

Congressional Report’s Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

  • Approximately 30% of US nursing homes, 5,283 long-term care facilities, were cited for nearly 9,000 cases of abuse over a two-year period.
  • The 5,283 homes cite house nearly 550,000 residents.
  • In the US, 1.6 million people reside in approximately 17,000 nursing homes.
  • Nearly 11,000 of the 17,000 total homes are for-profit businesses

Healthcare experts debate the topic of care quality in for-profit versus not-for-profit nursing homes. Some feel that higher levels of care come from not-for-profit homes because most are small and community or religious-based. Some of these homes also benefit from the ability to utilize volunteers in addition to accepting more government funding for resources. In contrast, for-profit facilities have the ability to charge more for care. Therefore, running an efficient operation can allow facility owners to reinvest profits and add more certified staffers as well as adding facility amenities for improving resident safety.

Inadequate/insufficient staffing is the leading cause of all nursing home incidents of neglect and preventable accidents.


ABC News –

elderly-abuseFour Nursing Home Workers Caught Abusing Patient on Camera

Nursing home resident Hellen MacDonald, who suffers from dementia, was sporting a fresh black eye when her son, Camille Parent, came for a visit in early 2013. Parent immediately became suspicious of the activity in the Ontario (Canada) nursing home after he couldn’t be provided with an explanation for her mother’s new facial bruise.

Parent set up secret surveillance cameras in MacDonald’s room and recorded the day to day activities over a three-week period at St. Joseph’s at Fleming long-term care facility in Peterborough, Ontario. The video revealed nurses shoving a feces-stained rag into the 85-year-old patient’s face and blowing the noses on her bed linens. Another instance showed footage of a staff member changing MacDonald’s diaper with her bedroom door wide open.

The alleged abuse caught on camera revolted Parent. Parent explained to CTV News in Canada: “To see my mom… to see what happened to her… I’ve never had my heart beat like it beat that night.”

The CEO of St. Joseph’s at Fleming, Alan Cavell, claimed he was surprised by the alleged abuse. Four employees, whose names were not made available, were suspended in connection with the incident pending the results of an internal investigation. The Ontario Ministry of Health (OMH) also initiated an investigation into the reported case.

Studies have shown that incidents of abuse have been reported in nearly 30% of all nursing homes in the US.  Similar reports estimate that between 4% and 10% of Canadian nursing home residents experience some type of abuse.


NY Daily News –

Nurse One Canada –

florida-orders-to-move-tbi-patientsFlorida Officials Order TBI Rehab to Move Patients –

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR)

The Florida Department of Health, along with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and Department of Children and Families (DCF), has ordered the Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR), a 196-bed rehabilitation facility in Wauchula, FL, to move over 50 patients out of its facility.  The decision came at the end of August 2012, following a surprise inspection and investigation earlier in the same month after a Bloomberg investigative report and several hundred complaints revealed strong evidence of alleged physical abuse against patients.

Officials from all three agencies determined that FINR was not properly licensed to care for nearly 50 mentally ill, autistic, or otherwise not brain or spinal cord injured patients. The state had demanded that FINR submit a timely plan to relocate the patients to another facility.

The DOH, ACHA, and DCF, also determined that FINR was in violation of its transitional living facility license by keeping patients too long. FINR has been ordered to revamp its protocol for discharging patients in a timely manner.

The orders came shortly after agency officials also discovered that an employee with a criminal background was working on the residential staff. By law, the employee is “not eligible” for employment in any staff position. The state also subpoenaed FINR’s internal incident reports covering the past 12 months, but had not yet received them by the end of the month.

Disability Rights Florida, a federally funded agency responsible for investigating abuse complaints, pointed out that there is no federal monitoring of the facility current rules are:

“…too limited to ensure resident health, safety and prevention and detection of abuse, neglect and rights violations.”



Disability Rights Florida

peter-priceConnecticut Recalls Ward Patients from Alleged Florida Abuse Haven–

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR)

The Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR), a Hardee County-based for-profit center, was informed by the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (CDDS) of a recall of several of its disabled patients previously placed in the center. The move, initiated in August 2012, followed “outrage” expressed by CDDS commissioner Terrence Macy after being shown video footage of two autistic patients from Connecticut getting beaten by staffers.

One video was secretly filmed by another employee using a cell-phone camera. In the video, two employees flanking a visibly disabled FINR patient, Danny Silva, repeatedly punch, slap, and elbow the defenseless man.  The staffers allegedly struck Silva over 30 times in a two hour time period. Macy further commented:

“Watching the video, I saw things that were reprehensible to me and horrific and would never be tolerated in this state.”

Another Connecticut patient referred to FINR, a mentally ill patient named Melinda Jakobowksi, died at a nearby Tampa hospital after she was discovered unresponsive in her room with her hair wrapped around her neck. A state regulatory probe by Florida officials revealed that staffers failed to adequately supervise Jakobowksi, a patient with a history of attempting to harm herself. A staffer was even discovered to have been sleeping on the job the day Jakobowski was found.

Macy’s agency has since successfully transferred 10 of 15 patients  back to facilities in Connecticut and has been working on modifying budgetary constraints  and treatment resources to get the remaining 5 recalled and placed to any place other than FINR.



family-fights-back-against-nursing-home-abuse-with-hidden-camerasFamily Fights Back against Nursing Home Abuse with Hidden Camera

Family members of a resident living in a North Texas nursing home grew concerned after hearing claims of physical abuse. 98-year-old nursing home resident Minnie Graham told her granddaughters Teri Hardin and Shirley Ballard that people in the home had been hitting her. Both granddaughters grew even more suspicious when they started noticing bruises.  When they began asking questions, staff members of the Winters Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Garland, TX, explained that Graham had fallen out of her wheelchair.

Ballard and Hardin did not believe the explanation, so they installed a hidden camera in their grandmother’s room. They soon captured video showing Graham being abused by hospice worker Brenna Tiller.  The video shows Tiller yanking Graham up by the arm roughly, after which Graham falls back onto the bed.  On the recording, Graham can be heard crying out, “Somebody help me.” Graham then begins resisting Tiller and Tiller slaps Graham multiple times. Tiller then berates the 98-year-old with profanity, mocking her and calling her ugly. Tiller is also shown spraying water in her face while brushing her hair roughly.

A second worker, Iwuchukwu Ekechukwu, who goes by the name Louis, was also caught on camera handling Graham roughly and hitting her.

Graham’s family pressed charges and a Dallas County Grand Jury indicted both aides for Felony Injury to the Elderly in the early summer of 2012. As of May 2013, Ekechukwu had been arrested but the case had been continued 13 times awaiting Tiller’s arrest. Police told Graham’s family they could not locate her. A local Fox News affiliate reporter located Ms. Tiller last May.  The Texas Department of Aging and Disability (DADS) eventually substantiated the family’s complaint but failed to cite Graham’s nursing home for any deficiencies and levied no fines, claiming the facility was unaware of the incidents.


Fox News –


bankruptFlorida Rehab Center Accused of Abuse Files for Bankruptcy –

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR)

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2013 following a long stint of alleged abuse and neglect complaints, as well as five wrongful death suits, from former patients and patients’ families. The traumatic brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation center, based in Wauchula, FL, has repeatedly made news headlines after multiple videos portraying staffers beating disabled patients were released in 2012.

FINR and three affiliated companies claim to owe between $3 million and $30 million to between 103 and 346 creditors. Company assets were listed below $150,000, though owner Joe Brennick’s known personal assets are estimated to be worth at least $10 million. In most cases, corporate bankruptcies do not take into account personal assets of the owners.

The bankruptcy was met by a suit filed by Regions Financial Corp. suing the institution for defaulting on $31 million in real-estate loans. Region’s lawsuit cited:

“That patients’ welfare is at risk because of financial problems and mismanagement at the rehabilitation center in Wauchula.”

FINR’s list of creditors in its bankruptcy filings included insurance companies, law firms, medical supply companies, utility providers, the county tax collector, and public relations firm. The filings make no specific mention of lawsuits settlements, but FINR critics have openly stated that the Chapter 11 filing is partly driven by institute owner Brennick’s desire to avoid paying out any additional or pending lawsuit judgments to victims and their families, following a track record of rulings already made against the center.




janet-clarkPetition to Stop Abuse of TBI Patients at Florida Rehab Center –

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR)

Jessica Alopaeus has begun efforts to petition Surgeon General John H Armstrong to order the closure of the Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR), a for-profit TBI and SCI rehabilitation center in Wauchula.

Jessica’s petition web page, posted at, following alleged abuse her brother, Peter Price, experienced as a resident at the Hardee County facility in 2009. Peter was a patient living at the facility for rehabilitation for a brain injury. After Peter had been living at the facility for a month, he called Jessica claiming he had been beaten up. Peter explained that three employees pinned him down and punched him in the face, torso, and groin.

Shortly thereafter, Peter was forced into what FINR designates as “therapeutic cabin programming”, which consists of several weeks of confinement in a single bedroom. Peter was so desperate to escape that he intentionally injured himself by swallowing fishhooks and over two dozen batteries. He saw it as his only way off the grounds.


abuse-FINRMore Abuse Allegations from TBI Patients in Florida Rehab Center–

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR)

In Wauchula of Hardee County, Florida, at the for-profit Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR), more reports of traumatic brain injury patients being beaten have surfaced in early 2013.

A more recent accusation of violence against a resident of the rehab center involves a case of a witness, the victim’s girlfriend. Stephanie Watson visited her boyfriend, Scott Berg, on a Sunday in early January. Berg is a FINR resident being treated for TBI. Berg and Watson were allegedly watching TV together when five staffers filed into the room. Watson was quoted saying:

“The door busts open and this gentleman walks in…he says something, I don’t remember what it was, but he said, ‘We can do this the easy way,’ and then he takes off his jacket and throws it and says, ‘We’re going to do this the hard way.”

Watson was able to record some video and audio using her cell phone before being pushed out of the room. After a few minutes, the five staffers attacked Berg, pinning him down and repetitively punching him. Watson can be heard on the video pleading with staffers to stop. She also took pictures of Berg’s injuries that resulted from the incident.

FINR under Harsh Criticism Following Multiple Lawsuit Rulings

This 2013 incident is among the latest of a grand total of 500 abuse complaints file with the Florida Department of Children and Families. FINR also stands accused of multiple human rights violations, with several lawsuits still pending.

Critics, including Watson, have spoken out against FINR’s recent bankruptcy filing by owner Joseph Brennick. Many believe the filing is simply a ploy to avoid from having to pay damages already awarded by successful liability lawsuits filed by former patients, patients’ families, and insurances companies.


10 News Tampa

Investigation reveals more Patient Deaths at Florida TBI Rehab –

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR)

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR), a for-profit TBI and SCI rehabilitation center in Hardee County, faces another wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2012.

Heather Hicks’ father, Reginald, was admitted to FINR after experiencing a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a car accident. Due to unknown reasons, Reginald fell and had to be rushed to the hospital shortly after settling in at FINR. He was placed on a strict liquid-only diet and had a feeding tube installed by hospital doctors. Just four days later, a FINR staffer took Hicks to the cafeteria and gave him solid food. The food was aspirated into his lung. FINR representatives claimed to be unaware of Hicks’ special diet requirements.

Heather had just left the center and was driving back to her home in Tampa when she was notified that her father, Reginald was going back to the hospital. Heather explained:

“So, I drove there. When I got there, he was…they were doing CPR on him…and he didn’t make it.”

Reginald Hicks’ autopsy report cited aspiration of food and pneumonia as his causes of death.

FINR files for Bankruptcy in the Wake of Wrongful Death Suits

Heather’s wrongful death suit on her father’s behalf may hold merit, but she may not recoup any damages potentially awarded pending FINR’s approval for corporate bankruptcy. FINR previously lost a 2005 wrongful death lawsuit for $5,000,000, Allstate Insurance is currently suing them for $7,000,000, and the center has settled confidentially out of court with at least three other previous wrongful death claimants.


10 News Tampa

Video Shows Alleged Patient Abuse on a Rehab Center Couch–

Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR)

The Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR), a for-profit rehabilitation center based in Wauchula, FL, faced a recall of several disabled patients by the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services last August. The disabled patients were wards of the state of Connecticut and were sent to FINR for special neurological care and rehabilitation services that Connecticut could not previously provide. The recall follows the release of a video secretly filmed by another employee using a cell-phone camera. In the video, two employees sitting on either side of resident, Danny Silva, repeatedly punch and elbow Silva several times. After the video was brought to investigators, another witness of the told them Silva was struck by the two staffers multiple times over a two hour time frame.  Abuse-video Aftermath Terrence Macy, Connecticut Department of Developmental Services Commissioner, said:

 “Those videos were terrible.  Just atrocious.  I think we have an underlying problem of people with disabilities being disrespected and treated with no values.”

Both men on the video, Landrey Johnson and Lakevin Johnson, pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of abuse after being fired from FINR and arrested by police. In statements to investigators, the former staffers denied intentionally striking the patient and attempted to explain that they used their own hands to keep Silva from hitting himself. In an official statement to media regarding last year’s recall of Connecticut patients, FINR appeared to claim some credit for patient while declining to address any wrongdoing or regrets by stating:

 “Working with Connecticut officials over the course of the past few months to discharge several patients from FINR as these patients’ conditions have vastly improved as a result of the care they were given at FINR and are now well enough to be transferred to a facility in Connecticut that provides a lower level of care.”

References: NBC Connecticut

abuseFamily Claims Records Being Withheld in Nursing Home Abuse Case

In another “caught on video” case of nursing home abuse, family members of 96-year-old nursing home resident Eryetha Mayberry have expressed outrage over their difficulties in obtaining a copy of their mother’s incident report from the nursing home.

In late 2012, the family planted a hidden camera which captured two nursing home workers abusing their mother in her Oklahoma City (OKC) nursing home. The video created uproar and led to the conviction of the two women who caused the abuse.

Mayberry has passed away since the incident, but now her daughters are seeking details about the care she received in Quail Creek Nursing and Rehab Center in OKC. Her daughters explained that the nursing home was required to make a record of every injury, as Mayberry endured many of them. Both daughters have made calls and sent letters requesting Mayberry’s case documents, but their inquiries have gone unanswered. Mayberry’s daughters claim to have been given poor “excuses” as to why her mother’s records are being withheld and they feel that the home may be concealing or erasing evidence of their mother’s mistreatment.

The girls have contacted the OK Department of Health, who does investigate violations of federal and state law, but could not confirm nor deny whether an investigation of Quail Creek was currently underway. With the help of a local news team, the daughters learned that federal law requires nursing homes to produce a patient’s records within two working days.


News 9 OK –

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