Lawsuit over Grand Rapids nursing privatization overturned

Detroit Free Press


Aug. 03–LANSING — A state appeals court today overturned an Ingham County judge and dismissed a lawsuit attempting to halt the privatization of nursing aide jobs at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

— Read the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling

In October, Ingham Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield issued a preliminary injunction halting the privatization, saying she feared the change would cause “irreparable harm” to the more than 600 veterans who live in the state-run home.

But today, a three-court panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the injunction and sent the case back to Manderfield with instructions that she grant a state motion to dismiss the case.

Plaintiff Tony Spallone, a Vietnam veteran who lives at the home, testified that nursing aides hired by contractor J2S Group of Grand Rapids don’t get enough training and don’t stay on the job long because they make about $10 an hour. The court heard testimony about injuries caused by veterans due to improper lifting techniques and other mistakes by J2S employees.

About 170 state nursing aides at the home, represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, are paid a top rate of just more than $20 an hour.

The appeals court ruled that Spallone can’t demonstrate he has a protected right to receive adequate care at the home because “he is free to leave the home at any time.”

The panel also said that Manderfield’s ruling was based on “the mere apprehension of future injury” and is speculative.

“The allegations of inadequate care only involve a handful of J2S employees and the actions of these few employees cannot be imputed to the rest,” the court said.

There was no immediate word on whether today’s ruling would be appealed.

Gov. Rick Snyder forecast $4.2 million in savings for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs from the privatization move.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or



Posted by Tribune News Services

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