Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Escapes from Canoga Park Nursing Facility

Canoga Park, Calif.— After several occasions of escaping from his family’s care, Juan Carlos Gonzalez was admitted to Pelagia’s Leisure Home, Inc. for 24-hour assistance and monitoring. Unfortunately, it’s alleged that instead of providing the one-on-one attention they promised, Pelagia’s Leisure Home, Inc. accepted responsibility for Gonzalez knowing they did not have enough staff to provide the care he required. As a result of the facility’s negligence, Gonzalez was allowed to wander away from the facility and was missing for two days.

Garcia, Artigliere, Medby & Faulkner filed a lawsuit against Pelagia’s Leisure Home, Inc. for elder abuse, negligence, negligent hiring and supervision, and premises liability.

“Pelagia’s Leisure Home, Inc. certainly knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known, that they did not have the resources or trained staff available to fulfill their promises and, allegedly, had no ability, or likely intention, to provide the care and supervision they promised to Juan’s family,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Due to his age and condition, Juan required full assistance with all of his activities of daily living – prohibiting his admission to the non-medical RCFE facility, yet the facility elected to admit him anyway. The “heads in beds” mentality to unlawfully churn money is a situation which so typically and horribly causes such significant injuries to elders of this state such as Juan.”

Allegations and Background

On July 7, 2016, Gonzalez was admitted to Pelagia’s Leisure Home, Inc. He suffered from severe dementia, required a pacemaker and was on medications, which caused him to be chronically disoriented. The facility was also aware of Gonzalez’s prior history of wandering.

The lawsuit alleges that when Gonzalez was first admitted to the facility, his family explicitly warned administrators of his propensity to wander. On many occasions, Gonzalez would regularly get out of his bed or wheelchair and wander off if left unattended.

The facility claimed that they had the proper resources and trained staff to care for Gonzalez. However, the lawsuit states that the facility neither monitored Gonzalez nor implemented any interventions to keep him safe from injuries. The lawsuit alleges that Gonzalez was left unattended throughout his stay. The lack of supervision continued unabated, and as a result, 48 hours after his admission, Gonzalez escaped.

Allegedly, once the staff noticed that Gonzalez was missing, no one at the facility contacted his family to notify them. When Gonzalez’s daughter came to visit him, a nurse shouted to her that Gonzalez was missing. Another employee of the facility had allegedly explained that it was not their responsibility to monitor Gonzalez, nor was it their responsibility to find him.

Shortly thereafter, the police were called and a search began for Gonzalez, but he was unable to be found. The search continued for an entire day without any sightings. The lawsuit states that the facility eventually came clean and told Gonzalez’s family that no one was watching the residents at night. One staff nurse even said she was unaware of Gonzalez’s condition.

Finally, on July 8, 2016, a neighbor of Gonzalez’s daughter happened to be driving in the area and saw Gonzalez sitting under a tree by the side of the road, approximately 15 miles from the facility.

The lawsuit states that when Gonzalez was finally found, he was filthy and had been defecating in his clothes. He was also severely dehydrated and malnourished.

The lawsuit states that the facility’s apathy continued even after the staff was made aware that he went missing. Unfortunately, it’s alleged that the facility simply declined to expend any effort to locate him. As a result, it was left up to Gonzalez’s family to take searching for him into their own hands.