In nursing home litigation, it is not always possible to obtain all the information necessary or desired from the nursing home itself. Fortunately other ways of obtaining this information exists. Missouri allows for Sunshine Requests and Kansas has open records requests. These requests serve to allow plaintiffs to discover the information they need. This includes the nursing home licensure file which shows the owner of the facility, any management company, and other pertinent data. Sunshine Requests and Open Records requests are essential components of most nursing home litigation.
Obtaining nursing home licensure files can be a relatively easy process for plaintiffs. The process involves sending a letter to the Section for Long Term Care Regulation of the Division of Regulation and Licensure of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. These requests are properly addressed to PO Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0570. In the letter note that the requests is being made pursuant to the Missouri Sunshine Law, Chapter 610. It is also important to note the facility the file is being requested about and the year for which the file is being requested. The address should be included in this request as well. It may be smart to require notice if fees for providing the record exceed a certain amount, as files may be lengthy. Certain portions of records may be closed. Receiving these portions can be more difficult. Often times, even a subpoena for the records will be met with a motion to quash as opposed to production. In a Sunshine Request it is wise to note that if a portion of the file is closed, you would still like to be provided the portions available. Finally, be sure to provide an address for where responses to your request should be sent. Missouri Law requires that requests be responded within 3 business days of being received by the custodian of the records.
Kansas Open Records requests are very similar in nature to Missouri Sunshine requests. For example, in seeking to obtain records from police regarding an incident at a nursing home the Open Records request should be sent to the police department. At the beginning of the letter note that the request is being made pursuant to the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA). As with Missouri, being as specific as possible about the request is key. Note the facility the incident happened at, when the incident occurred, the elder victim’s name and any other information possible. Like Missouri, it may be wise to ask for notifications if production of the records costs more than a certain dollar amount. Requesting files be sent electronically, if possible, may be prudent. As in Missouri, KORA requests must be responded to within 3 business days.
The Missouri Sunshine Act and KORA are valuable tools for any nursing home Plaintiff. They can provide information which is essential to the claim. Each is easy to fill out and requires (statutorily) a quick response from the agency. This allows nursing home plaintiffs the opportunity to receive the information they need in a timely manner, or make other strategic determinations.
 K.S.A. 45-218.