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Woman Wrongfully Put on Hospice Care at Foothill Ranch Care Center

Garcia & Artigliere

Foothill Ranch, Calif. – Janice Dean Sturgeon, a dependent adult woman, was admitted to Royalwood Care Center for long-term care after undergoing nine biopsies at UCLA Hospital relating to a small intestine tumor that was diagnosed 98% benign. Shortly following Sturgeon’s admission, the facility sent her to Daniel Freeman Hospital for further examination of her benign tumor. It’s alleged the facility fabricated biopsy results and indicated the tumor was “100% malignant.” The facility insisted upon starting Sturgeon on hospice care and told her family she had a three-month life expectancy. As stated in the lawsuit, the facility’s wrongful withholding of necessary care led directly to Sturgeon suffering entirely preventable injuries, including significant weight loss to a mere 68 lbs., complete loss of her ability to walk, the development of multiple infections and pressure sores, as well as other injuries.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Royalwood Care Center for dependent abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“Janice deserved and required more than the end-of-life care she was wrongfully subjected to by Royalwood Care Center, and based on her resulting horrific injuries, it’s remarkable she is still alive to this day,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Given the facility’s falsification of Janice’s medical records and then an unfortunate effort to cover up its failures, it’s clear the facility never had any intention of providing Janice with the required care. Instead, the facility chose to underfund and understaff for the sake of maximizing profits.”

Allegations and Background

It’s alleged that prior to Sturgeon’s admission to Royalwood Care Center, the facility was made aware of the findings and diagnosis at UCLA Hospital indicating the tumor was 98% benign. Yet, the facility started Sturgeon on hospice care notwithstanding her true care needs, including activities of daily living, and special care and services to prevent her from suffering significant weight loss, mobility loss, infections, pressure ulcers, as well as other injuries.

According to the lawsuit, as a direct result of the chronic understaffing at the facility in both number and training, the facility failed to ensure that Sturgeon received adequate hydration and nutrition to stave off malnourishment, infections and skin breakdown; failed to maintain and rehabilitate Sturgeon’s mobility; and failed to timely react to Sturgeon’s emergent conditions and injuries. Sturgeon suffered these alleged injuries because facility staff simply did not have adequate time or the inclination to provide her with the required care or to document and address her emergent conditions.

Further, pursuant to the last filing submitted by the facility with the State of California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) for the reporting period through December 31, 2016, the facility either siphoned off $460,542.00 in payments to or for “Administration” services as it relates to managing the facility itself, or, and as is more likely the case, the facility paid to the Defendant Genesis Healthcare, LLC the amount of $460,542.00 for the provision of limited to no services. Moreover, as a further mechanism to ensure unlawful profit at the expense of the legally mandated minimum care to be provided to residents of the facility, the facility and the Management Defendants further unlawfully siphoned off cash, which should have been devoted to resident care as a matter of law, by paying $13,972,433.00 through an unspecified “Payable to Related Party” account to Defendant Genesis Healthcare, LLC for the provision of limited to no services. This was a mechanism by which the Management Defendants control the actual fiscal operations of each of their skilled nursing facilities and pull out cash how and when they want irrespective of the purported, illusory and non-existent fiscal independence of the facility.


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