Twenty elderly men and women went without their daily medication in a senior living home in Palm Springs, CA because there was not medical technician on duty. In Paso Robles, a senior women fell in her bedroom and waited 22 hours for help even after she pushed the emergency button. These devastating incidents are only some of those reported against one of the nation’s biggest assisted living provide: Brookdale Senior Living.
A class action lawsuit was recently filed in a Northern California federal district court. The claim details these incidents and several other which allegedly took place in Brookdale owned facilities. The lawsuit says that inadequate staffing, improper training, and rising fees are a contributing factor and part of a “callous and profit driven approach”. Multiple residents, from several locations, claim they are not assisted for hours after a fall, are given the wrong medications, and left in their waste .
The California Assisted Living Association, an industry group, has declined to comment on the matter, and so have the relatives of those involved. The spokeswoman for Brookdale Senior Living, based in Tennessee, says the lawsuit has no merit and the company is prepared to “vigorously” defend itself.
The company operates a total of 1,121 facilities in 47 states. Approximately 100,000 elders live in the assisted living homes. This is not the first lawsuit Brookdale has faced. Earlier this year a class action suit filed in a Fort Lauderdale federal court notes similar allegations. One plaintiff says she has not had her individual needs met, but the fees nearly tripled.
The California lawsuit is said to be the first class action claim against a senior living home under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Although it was filed on behalf of four senior occupants, if it holds up in the court, all Brookdale resident’s in California could be affected. The suit also claims that many of Brookdale’s facilities do no adhere to federal or state accessibility guidelines. Bathrooms cannot accommodate wheelchairs and there is no emergency plan in place for the disabled residents. Three of the four plaintiffs are in a wheelchair.
One lawyer says it will be very difficult for the ADA to certify a class action lawsuit, but not impossible. Other legal advocates claim this lawsuit could have a big impact on the assisted living industry as a whole.
In 2014, Brookdale purchased the publicly traded company Emeritus, a large senior living home that was in multiple states, including California. The $2.8 billion deal led to falling stock prices, a large staff turnover, and declining occupancy. The deal appears to have backfired and caused Brookdale much uncertainty.
Currently Brookdale’s base fees include room and board. Additional charges for further care, including help with medications, are added on. An average resident pays around $4,000 a month, according to the Brookdale website. Earning nearly a half billion dollars a month, advocates for nursing home reform say the Brookdale should have no problem meeting the basic demands of resident’s.
More on this story as it evolves. Until then, if you or a family member has experienced negligence in a nursing home, please contact The Higgins Firm at 1 615-353-0930 .