University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review

Document Type



Arkansas's current path in nursing-home regulation is leading to the destruction of its nursing-home system. In particular, the Arkansas Resident's Rights Statute favors plaintiffs and allows for high damage awards. The statute's civil enforcement provision lacks guidelines for the application of the statute or the award of damages. In February of 2006, the Arkansas Supreme Court decided Health Facilities Management Corp. v. Hughes, a nursing home case concerning the Arkansas Resident's Rights Statute. The court's decision on the issue of liability under the statute was well-reasoned and stayed faithful to the goals of the statute, encouraging nursing-home licensees to live up to their responsibilities. However, while the court could have decided the case so as to clarify the statute and give guidance to the parties involved, the court's decision only contributed to the ambiguity on the issue of damages. In the decision, the court laid out a vague standard for the statute's application that seems to overlap with traditional negligence law and gives juries exceedingly broad discretion in assessing compensatory damages under the statute.

This note begins by looking at the facts of the case at hand, Health Facilities Management Corp. v. Hughes. The note then provides the reader with a background that includes the state of the nursing-home industry, different approaches to problems in long-term care, and the state of Arkansas's laws and litigation regarding nursing homes. Next, the note looks at the Arkansas Supreme Court's reasoning in Health Facilities Management Corp. Finally, the note discusses the significance of that case and will call for change in Arkansas's approach to nursing home litigation.