Elizabeth Todd has always been called to the practice of law. She recalls always wanting to be a lawyer, even as a seven-year old who didn’t fully grasp everything the profession entails. Now, with more than 20 years of experience, she’s a fierce advocate and ally for some of the most vulnerable people in our society – the frail elderly.
“I wanted to BE something good in the world, to DO something that affects change, and being a lawyer was the best way I thought I could achieve that. Even when I was a young girl, lawyers always fascinated me. The idea that you could stand up for somebody else and help them through careful strategy and a deep understanding and knowledge of the law – that spoke to me then, and it’s something that’s stayed with me. Being a lawyer is how I know I can help the most people and do the most good.”
There are few attorneys who focus their practice entirely on nursing home and assisted living negligence, and that is one reason we have a troubled system that sees some for-profit nursing homes preying on the aged and their families.
“Besides infants and children, I don’t think there’s a more vulnerable population in our society than the frail elderly in nursing homes. The fact that some of these massive corporations are making billions of dollars and are able to get away with some of the inhumane practices at their facilities is, to me, an atrocity. While not all nursing homes or assisted living facilities are for-profit, many are. Now imagine if every daycare center in America became a for-profit operation, and routinely neglected our children and caused their injuries and deaths; we’d close the doors to those facilities without a second thought. And for some reason, I don’t feel nursing home injuries and deaths are met with the same outrage, and I unequivocally reject that.”
“An Unchecked System”
The majority of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the U.S. are for-profit, which means that millions of Americans are paying good money into private pockets – either through direct payments, or through every worker’s Medicare taxes – with the expectation that our vulnerable elderly will get the quality care they need and deserve. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and Elizabeth works to keep them accountable.
“Every single person deserves the same level of care, respect, and dignity, whether they’re in a nursing home or a nursery. What drives me are the people who cannot fight back or can’t necessarily help themselves. The fact that the elderly often fall victim to abuse and neglect, while some companies profit handsomely off of them, keeps me going every day. It’s an injustice, and it’s one that I work hard to try to fight and correct.”
Making a Marked Difference in the Nursing Home and Assisted Living Industry
Elizabeth recalls representing a client whose mother was placed in a North Carolina nursing home facility. The client wanted to sue the nursing home because every time they visited their mother, the facilities reeked of urine and feces, there was never any staff, people were leaning out of their wheelchairs, and overall, they described it as a “hellish” facility. There was not enough staff in the facility, and their mother had an avoidable injury that led to her death. With Elizabeth’s lead, the client sued the facility and won.1
The client called Elizabeth back after a year to tell her that now their mother-in-law had to go to the same facility, and the difference was night and day. The client reported that the facility was now clean, more than adequately staffed, and the residents looked like they were being taken care of well.1
“We really did something good and effected widespread change. [My client] attributes the drastic 180º change at that facility to our work and success with her claim.1 It was really wonderful. My clients are the best clients in the world. They all, without fail, say to me, ‘I know this won’t bring my mom or dad back, but I want to help ensure it doesn’t happen to somebody else’s parents.’ And that keeps me going, because it makes me feel that I’m making a difference within the industry.”
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Nursing Home Negligence
Order of Service, North Carolina Advocates for Justice, (2018 and 2019)
North Carolina State Bar
North Carolina Bar Association
North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ)
American Association for Justice (AAJ)
American Association for Justice Nursing Home Litigation Group
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care
Friends of Residents in Long Term Care
CLASSES & SEMINARS
N.C. Advocates for Justice Nursing Home Webinar: So You Want to Handle Nursing Home Cases?, 2016
N.C. Advocates for Justice Nursing Home CLE: What is a Nursing Home Case?, 2012
American Association for Justice Nursing Home Litigation Webinar: MDS Resident Data – Getting Your Client’s Real Condition, 2011
N.J. Advocates for Justice Nursing Home CLE: The Magic Bullet – Digging Deep in the Records to Prove Liability, 2009
American Association for Justice Nursing Home Litigation Webinar: Proving Your Case Through Violations of Federal Regulations, 2006
N.C. Advocates for Justice Nursing Home Litigation Conference: Course Organizer of Full-Day Continuing Education Program, 2005
N.C. Advocates for Justice Nursing Home Litigation Conference: Using Federal Regulations and Facility Policies & Procedures to Prove Liability, 2002
PUBLICATIONS & SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
“Good Counsel” article, American Association for Justice Trial Magazine, 2016
COMMUNITY & CIVIC INVOLVEMENT
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Morganton Day School, 2017
Member of the Board of Trustees, Morganton Day School, 2015-2017
Member of the Board of Governors, N.C. Advocates for Justice, 2009, 2017
Former Chairman of the NCAJ Nursing Home Litigation Section, two terms
Former member of the Board of Directors for Friends of Residents of Long Term Care (North Carolina’s only non-profit advocacy group devoted exclusively to improving the condition of the frail elderly in the state)
Wake Forest School of Law
University of North Carolina – Greensboro