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Pierce v. Genesis Healthcare

Lawsuit Challenges Use of Chemical Restraints at Nursing Facility


AARP Foundation Litigation attorneys represent the family of Sylvia Pierce who alleges that a Delaware nursing facility administered unnecessary psychotropic drugs to their mother  without first securing the informed consent from her or her family.


Pierce was admitted to Milford Center, a Genesis Healthcare facility located in Milford, Delaware, in September 2014. Pierce’s health deteriorated dramatically, and she died less than two months after the facility staff began administering Zyprexa and other drugs to her that are intended to treat mental illness. Zyprexa can be fatal when given to elderly people with dementia like Pierce. Milford Center never consulted Pierce’s family before administering the drugs to her. Her family did not discover that the facility had changed her medications until after she had deteriorated dramatically and irreparably.

Pierce’s family sued for wrongful death.  They are represented in the litigation by AARP Foundation Litigation and the private law firm of Baird Mandalas Brockstedt, LLC .  

What’s at Stake

The administration of psychotropic medication without medical justification and without fully informed consent is elder abuse and a critical problem in today’s treatment of older people, particularly in long term care and nursing facilities. It jeopardizes the mental and physical health of patients, increases their isolation, and increases the costs of care to both individuals and to government health care programs.  Residents in nursing facilities and their family members must ask about all medications that they are being administered by the facility so that they can ensure that the side effects and alternatives to such drugs are fully considered.  

Case Status

Pierce v. Genesis Healthcare, Inc., is before the Superior Court of the State of Delaware.

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Find cases in which AFL has advocated in courts nationwide for the rights of older persons, and filed AARP’s amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs that help courts decide precedent-setting cases. The cases within the drop-down categories below are in alphabetical order for ease of searching.

Strengthening Law and Policy through
Legal Advocacy

Our legal advocacy initiatives  - conducted by AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL) - reflect nearly 20 years of work in federal and state courts across the country. Through our efforts, we support the Foundation’s four impact areas: Tackling Senior Hunger, Paving the Way to Stable Income, assuring the adequacy and availability of Safe and Afffordable Housing and Reconnecting People to Families and Communities, and ensure that those 50 and older have a voice in the laws and policies that affect their daily lives.