On the responsibility of nursing homes

Nursing Homes

For there to be responsibility for nursing homes, the causal relationship between behavior and harm must be proven


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It is necessary to verify the existence of a causal relationship between the provision made and the damage caused, to be able to demand contractual civil liability

The Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court has resolved in this regard in its judgment the 11 March 2020, with No Resolution 171/2020, dismissing the appeal brought by Dña. Antonia, after his mother's death from myocardial infarction in one of the centers managed by Family Residences for the Elderly, S.L. (onwards, RFM, S.L.). The Chamber considered that there was no causal relationship between the cause of death and the fact that, at the time of production of the same, I was alone in the center garden, and, therefore, that there was no negligent conduct by the health workers that, at that moment, were serving.

Fact background,,es,Juan Alberto and Paulina filed suit against FTA,,es,Asset Securitization Fund,,es,requesting the declaration of nullity for abusive of the floor and ceiling clauses contained in the novation contract of the mortgage loan of,,es,with the corresponding refund of amounts unduly collected,,es,The Securitization Fund Management Company,,es,Beech,,es,acting on behalf of FTA, he responded to said claim alleging that he lacked passive legitimacy since the entity had no legal personality and that it constituted only a private and open fund and that therefore the passive legitimization corresponded to BBVA as successor of Catalunya Banc that was the Company fund constituent,,es

Dña's mother. Antonia was admitted to a residence managed by RFM, S.L., in Marbella. The day 6 July 2007, died of acute myocardial infarction, when she was alone in the center garden. Passed away at 77 years old. He had previous pathologies unrelated to the cause of death.

Ms.. Antonia filed suit on 26 November 2010. He requested that RFM be sentenced, S.L. to the payment of a compensation amount plus the corresponding legal interests.

Primera Instancia

The Court of First Instance No. 5 of Marbella sentenced the 20 January 2014, estimating demand. Condemned RFM, S.L. to the payment to Dña. Antonia, from € 16,674.92, plus the legal interest of the money from the judicial interpellation, increased by two percentage points.

The Court considered that, to be, alone, could not give him the necessary medical attention to save his life.

Provincial Court

RFM, S.L. appeal filed.

Section 5 of the Provincial Court of Malaga passed sentence on 21 June 2017, estimating the appeal. Revoke the sentence handed down in the first instance.

The Section considered that the causal relationship between the fact that she was alone at the time of death and the cause of death was not established.. He concluded that he died of natural causes, without any proof that it was due to lack of medical attention or care.

Supreme Court

Ms.. Antonia filed an extraordinary appeal for procedural infringement and appeal.

The reasons alleged in the appeal fueron los siguientes:

  • first plea: violation of art. 1104 CCivil.
  • second reason: violation of the arts. 26.2   and 28   of the law 26/1984, of 19 July, General for the defense of Consumers and Users (today items 147 and 148 of the Consolidated Text approved by RDL 1/2007.
  • third plea: loss of opportunity doctrine.

The three grounds were dismissed by the Supreme Court Chamber.

As to the first plea, the Chamber brought up the Court's jurisprudence, must be found fault as the basis of civil liability, either contractual or non-contractual, based on the following postulates:

  1.   "The subjective responsibility, through fault, only excepted by law.
  2.   The abnormally dangerous nature of an activity may justify reversing the burden of proof and, therefore, the need to prove lack of guilt.
  3.   For other activities, in application of art. 217 LEC, It is the injured party who claims the responsibility burden of proof of defendant's fault.”

As regards the second reason, the Chamber considered that it was not enough for an injurious result to be produced, but the causal relationship between the provision made and the damage had to be verified, in this case, that the health services have not complied with the required levels of efficacy or safety.

Specifically, Hall said there was no causal relationship between the death of Dña's mother. Antonia and the lack of health care at the time she had a heart attack, because it had been produced by natural cause, not being able to affirm that, if you had been treated at the time of the heart attack, his life would have been saved.

"The fact that she could spend an hour or two alone in the center garden does not constitute negligent conduct causally linked to a natural death. The defendant entity cannot be legally attributed the death, making you responsible for it for a faulty contractual breach. ”

Last, as for the third reason, the Chamber immediately ruled it out because it did not consider that the death was legally attributable to RFM, S.L., for omission of due diligence and neglect of the duties of care required by the services provided.


In order to demand contractual civil liability, it is not enough that there has been a harmful result, but, also, necessary verify the existence of a causal relationship between the provision made and the damage caused.

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