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Garcia & Artigliere File Suit Against Lake Forest Nursing Center After Alleged Choking Incident

Garcia & Artigliere

In a claim filed with the Orange County Superior Court, Garcia & Artigliere reveal financially motivated neglect that allegedly led to a patient’s aspiration and death.

In June of 2019, an elderly woman was hospitalized for 2 months in a coma at Saddleback Hospital. During her stay, she was treated with a breathing tube and had difficulty swallowing and communicating, even after her treatment. Additionally, the woman had very few teeth and needed dentures, which kept her from properly chewing food and left her with a heightened risk for aspiration and/or choking.

By August of 2019, the woman had a fall at home and fractured her ribs. She was forced to return to Saddleback Hospital, where she was treated and discharged to Lake Forest Nursing Center. The 175-bed, 24-hour care facility, hereby referred to as the facility, was allegedly run by El Toro Medical Investors Limited Partnership and other shell companies owned and operated by Robert Lorenzo and Forrest Prestons, hereby known as the defendants.

According to the complaint, the defendants prioritized the financial needs of their companies over the needs of patients. The prolonged neglect and abuse of patients, including the plaintiff, allegedly arose out of 4 calculated business decisions by the defendants, which resulted in insufficient funds for safely operating the facility.

In 2017, the facility received 49 Department of Public Health (DPH) survey deficiencies when the average was 24. The next year, the average stayed the same, but the facility received 73 DPH survey deficiencies. By the time of the plaintiff’s admission in 2019, the facility had already received 38 deficiencies when the average at the time was 9. The facility allegedly had an insufficient staff in both number and training throughout the plaintiff’s stay, which began on September 6, 2019, and ended with her untimely death on September 11, 2019.

At the time of her admittance, the patient was on a “restricted mechanical soft diet.” Due to her dietary restrictions, the defendants should have known of her increased risk of aspiration. Nevertheless, the patient was given a kale salad on September 9 and left unattended while she ate. The woman started to choke and was found unresponsive at approximately 1 p.m. Upon this discovery, the staff called 911. Emergency responders attempted to resuscitate the patient, but the aspirated kale blocked her airway and thwarted their revival efforts. At Saddleback Hospital, doctors were able to clear the patient’s airway and put her on life support, but by September 11, she had passed away.

The alleged actions of the defendants caused extended and unnecessary pain and suffering to the plaintiff and her family. The plaintiff’s injury and death could have easily been prevented had the defendants followed her special diet orders and/or provided the appropriate supervision, monitoring and assistance with her feeding.

For this reason and several others, including the alleged violation of countless statutes, Garcia & Artigliere has requested general, special, punitive, and exemplary damages for the plaintiff’s beneficiaries.

If you have any information about the case or need help pursuing a similar claim, please contact Garcia & Artigliere at (800) 328-2630 or schedule a free, confidential consultation online.

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