More California Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits Filed

Late last year we wrote that, in a massive verdict, nursing home operator Skilled Healthcare, was mandated to pay over $671 million in a class-action lawsuit. Skilled Healthcare was found to have neglected to provide appropriate staffing at its assisted-living locations, said the Associated Press (AP) at the time. The complaint involved 32,000 patients at 22 facilities in California from 2003 to 2009.

Since, five other <"">nursing home abuse lawsuits have been filed that state, with each alleging, said California Watch, insufficient staffing. In July, the jury found that Skilled Healthcare did not meet state staffing standards, imposing the maximum fine: $500 per patient per each day that the chain violated state standards, said California Watch. While the company did not admit to wrongdoing, plaintiff and defense attorneys agreed that Skilled Healthcare should settle for $50 million to avoid bankruptcy, wrote California Watch. Plaintiff attorneys described the class action settlement as one of the largest jury verdicts in a nursing home case, added California Watch.

Some of the emerging cases, all alleging insufficient staffing include:

• Phyllis Wehlage v. Evergreen California Healthcare: The plaintiff was left unattended while at the facility in 2008; her call light was not answered and she was not assisted with toileting, resulting in her “sitting in a urine-soaked bed for hours,” the complaint said, quoted California Watch.

• Valentine v. Thekkek Health Services: The plaintiff was a resident of Gateway Care and Rehabilitation in Hayward following a post-surgical brain injury. The complain alleges that the plaintiff was not sufficiently moved to avoid bedsores and sites inadequate staffing.

• Maria Hernandez v. Beverly Healthcare California: Two plaintiffs living at Golden LivingCenter facilities allege the facilities were insufficiently staffed, causing “inadequate assistance with eating and rough handling by staff,” said California Watch.

• Hazel Walsh vs. Kindred Healthcare: The plaintiff, a resident at Golden Gate Healthcare Center, alleges understaffing caused a variety of neglect issues, said California Watch.

• A fifth case was filed against Covenant Care citing insufficient staffing to residents, added California Watch.

• Insufficient staff at Emerald Gardens Nursing Center caused one resident to be drugged until he became groggy; staff also allegedly failed to move a resident for so long that he needed—to date, more are possible—three surgeries to resolve bed sore issues, reported California Watch.

We have long been reporting on the growing tragedy of nursing home abuse, with too many cases to relate. The stories are all devastating and, it seems as if we are reporting on them with increasing frequency. Most recently, we wrote about a case in California in which a grandmother, placed in a facility by a reluctant family who felt she needed additional care, was physically abused and neglected. Before her death in the facility—a very short time after she arrived—her grandson equipped her bed with a Granny-Cam. And, while staff, aware of the device, unplugged the cam (against family wishes and without their knowledge) routinely, the camera did capture some abuse, which is now the center of litigation and an investigation and is appearing on media sites everywhere. Fair Oaks has since been shut down and all residents have been placed elsewhere.

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