Current and former residents of 17 Los Angeles and Orange County skilled nursing homes settled for $2 million in a class-action lawsuit, which alleges that these nursing homes understaffed their facilities and did not provide proper training to their nursing staff, which resulted in poor quality care and negligence. According to a CBS News report, the Brea-based Sun Mar operates at least eight nursing homes in Los Angeles County and six in Orange County that are facing allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect.
This class-action lawsuit was reportedly filed on behalf of Warren Richardson, a former resident at Anaheim Healthcare Center, who developed pressure sores as a result of the understaffing at that nursing home. Since many of the class members are deceased, the settlement mandates that the unclaimed money be reverted back to Sun Mar to be utilized for staffing their understaffed facilities.
The lawsuit alleged that Sun Mar promised elderly residents and their families quality care, but deliberately kept budgets tight making it impossible for facilities to retain sufficient staffing and provide quality training to their staff. They basically put profits over people, showing callous disregard for the welfare of people who depend on their quality care. There have been many citations for nursing home health and safety violations in the past. For example, the French Park Care Center in Santa Ana was cited for 20 deficiencies between Aug. 1, 2004 and July 31, 2005. The same facility was cited for 55 more deficiencies in the two years that followed.
The $2 million settlement, which will be distributed to class members, after the settlement is finalized in October, may not amount to much or may not even reach the class members because they may be deceased. But this lawsuit is how a class action lawsuit is meant to work in our justice system.
This lawsuit was much-needed because the government agencies that should have taken up the cause of understaffing in nursing homes, did not do that. Inaction or delayed action on the part of government injured these nursing home residents, who were victims of nursing home neglect in Santa Ana and other cities because they didn’t have sufficient staff to take care of them or respond to their needs. These class action lawsuits are a way for public citizens to take over where the government has failed.
I hope Sun Mar facilities are carefully monitored and investigated by state officials at least from here on. If you or someone you know has been a victim of nursing home abuse or negligence at any of Sun Mar’s nursing homes, please call me to find out about your legal rights.