Michael P. WestMichael West Clark Hill
Michael P. West
Michael West is an experienced litigator in his twenty-seventh year of practice, with a primary focus on the long-term care industry. Michael has successfully represented clients in jury trials and bench trials in state and federal courts and in arbitrations over a wide variety of practice areas.
Michael focuses his practice on the defense of providers in the long term care industry by representing corporate and individual clients in all aspects of litigation regarding claims against residential care facilities for the elderly (including memory care), skilled nursing facilities, and hospice providers. Michael has successfully represented his clients against claims of elder abuse, intentional torts, wrongful death, fraud, emotional distress, unfair business practices, violation of patient's rights, breach of contract and breach of statutory duties. He regularly assists owners, operators, managers and employees of facilities in defeating requests for punitive damages, treble damages, restitution, injunctive relief and attorneys' fees.
The global pandemic of 2020 expanded Michael’s practice with the emergence of COVID-19 claims asserted against an overburdened long term care industry. In addition to handling COVID-19 cases for his clients, Michael has been a leader in developing novel legal defense strategies for handling these claims by his participation on multiple national panels of defense counsel seeking to shield providers from liability arising out of attempts to respond to this unprecedented global challenge. Strategy decisions relating to jurisdictional venue, available immunity under statutory authority such as the PREP Act, and developing defenses based on the provider’s compliance with daily changing protocol dictated by multiple agencies has allowed Michael to position his clients with favorable defenses while the law is shaped and developed in response to this unique time.
Michael’s wide-ranging experience helping clients address long-term care claims includes matters arising out of resident falls from beds, wheelchairs, walkers and chairs, or simply when ambulating independently. He has handled claims involving pressure ulcers, delayed care, medication errors, elopement, choking, resident-on-resident altercations, thefts and sexual conduct, and alleged intentional staff misconduct towards residents. He has also defended facility owners, staff and caregivers in matters relating to residents with memory deficits, and understands the unique nuances and challenges associated with such disputes within the memory-care environment.
In developing effective defenses to these cases, Michael often focuses his arguments on the risks inherent in the long-term care environment. He also conducts detailed analyses of the prior risks associated with each resident, reviews of whether care plans should have been updated to address such risks, and evaluations of whether typically proposed interventions would have had an impact on the risk. In presenting his clients’ positions, he helps educate judges, juries and arbitrators or the trier of fact on the actual standards applicable to this industry in the differing care environments regulated by different state agencies, and helps combat the significant misunderstanding of the public regarding how long term-care providers operate. Michael also has a keen understanding of navigating the difficult waters of state agency citations as potentially impacting liability and works with communities to shore up their arbitration agreements to try to control litigation costs and potential exposure.
The strength of Michael’s long-term care practice — particularly in the high-stakes, high-risk world of litigation in California — rests on his vast experience in commercial and civil litigation. Michael has successfully represented clients in claims involving product liability (medical device litigation), premises liability (including liability for criminal actions of third parties), transportation, professional liability (real estate agents/brokers and mortgage loan brokers), defamation, fraud, mold exposure (including landlord/tenant disputes regarding breach of habitability), property boundary disputes, homeowners' association disagreements, and a wide variety of intentional torts including battery, hate crimes, sexual assault and false arrest. Michael has handled fraudulent claims, policy-limit demands, and excess policy-limit scenarios, having represented clients in cases alleging damages arising out of death, loss of sight/hearing/limbs, paralysis, brain injury, and permanent burns/scarring.
In addition to his litigation practice and to help clients implement proper risk-management practices designed to avoid future claims, Michael regularly donates his time to conduct client seminars on various issues of the law. Michael also has extensive experience in the field of alternative dispute resolution, serving as an approved mediator/arbitrator on the Los Angeles Superior Court's panel of ADR neutrals and assisting clients in resolving disputes through the mediation and arbitration process.
Michael is the Member in Charge of Clark Hill's San Diego office.