The family of a Solihull pensioner who died ten days after being admitted to a Birmingham nursing home have been granted a judicial review into the city coroner's decision not to hold an inquest.
Leslie Vines, who suffered from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, had spent eight months in Heartlands Hospital before he was discharged in August 2002, when doctors said he was "as fit as a 21-year-old".
The 77-year-old, from Shirley, was transferred to the Maypole Nursing Home, in Kings Heath, because he still required full-time care but within 48 hours, according to his relatives, he had become disorientated and "zombie-like".
When Mr Vines died on September 7, 2002 his cause of death was recorded as bronchial pneumonia. Neither a post mortem nor an inquest was held.
In January, the General Medical Council struck off the doctors who owned the nursing home, Dr Jamalapuram Hari Gopal and his wife Pratury Samarajya Lakshmi. The GMC decision followed inquiries into 16 deaths at the home.
Hazel Bicknell, Mr Vines' daughter, said: "We are desperate to find out what really happened to my father, especially now we know the doctors who owned and managed the care home have been found guilty of failings.
"We hope that a review of the coroner's decision not to hold an inquest into my father's death will take us one step closer to finding out the truth about how and why he died."
Aidan Cotter, the coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, declined to comment on the judicial review application which, if granted, is set to take place early next year.
In January 2005 he told The Birmingham Post of his concerns over whether doctors should be allowed to run nursing or residential homes.
He said: "My officers and I regularly look at nursing homes to try and detect patterns which may give cause for concern. I've noticed it particularly in the past few years."
Despite reviewing up to 16 cases passed to him by the National Care Standards Council, Mr Cotter said there would be no inquests into these residents' deaths. Eight out of ten of all death certificates written by the couple cited bronchopneumonia as a cause of death.
The decision to take legal action is revealed in a BBC1 documentary, Real Story: Dying For The Truth, which will be broadcast tonight.
In 2002, 27 patients died at the Maypole Nursing Home, which was registered to look after 36 elderly and mentally infirm patients. The previous year the home reported just eight deaths.
Following an unannounced inspection by the NCSC, it was closed in March 2003.
Jonathan Peacock, partner at Birmingham-based law firm Irwin Mitchell, which has decided to launch a judicial review, described conditions at the home as "simply unacceptable".
He said: "We were very disappointed by the coroner's decision not to hold an inquest and believe he should review these cases again in the light of the findings of the GMC hearing. We have now been granted leave to legally question this decision in the High Court in London. A date for this judicial review is still to be set but is expected to take place early next year."