A Los Angeles jury awarded a $5 million verdict on behalf of Arcelia Martinez, a 92-year-old dependent adult woman, who suffered elder abuse and neglect over a seven-year period while she was a resident of Ivy Creek Healthcare and Wellness Centre, a San Gabriel nursing home. Attorneys Stephen M. Garcia and William M. Artigliere of Garcia & Artigliere represented Martinez through a five-day jury trial against defendants Rockport Administrative Services and San Gabriel Healthcare & Wellness Centre, LP, the owners/operators of the facility.
To date, Garcia & Artigliere has filed over 30 lawsuits against California skilled nursing facilities owned and operated by Shlomo Rechnitz through his maze of corporations and partnerships , including two class actions in just the past few weeks alleging widespread fraudulent activities. Rechnitz is one of California’s largest nursing home owners and is known for intentional understaffing, relentless marketing and sales practices to increase resident population, an ongoing practice of utilizing unqualified and untrained employees, and recruiting heavier care residents so the nursing homes could receive higher reimbursements.
“Arcelia’s injuries were not the product of isolated failure, but rather the result of prolonged neglect and abuse that arose out of the defendants calculated business practices,” commented Garcia. “No one, particularly our vulnerable elderly, should have to endure what Arcelia went through. We are grateful the jury saw through the Defendants’ deceptive operations and brought justice to her and her family.”
“It’s well-known that Shlomo Rechnitz’s facilities are regularly issued deficiencies by the State of California’s Department of Health Services, but despite this, he continues to break state and federal laws, while violating patient rights for his personal financial gain,” said Artigliere. “In the punitive damage phase, the only witness called was Rockport’s alleged owner Steven Stroll, who confirmed annual revenue for Rockport in excess of $56 million.”
The jury returned a verdict of $357,000 in compensatory award, finding violations by the Defendants of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. The jury also found that the imposition of sanctions was warranted and after five minutes of deliberation, returned a $4 million-dollar punitive damage award. Pursuant to the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, Martinez was awarded attorney’s fees and costs which total approximately $600,000.
Martinez was admitted to Ivy Creek Healthcare and Wellness Centre in 2011 because her family could no longer provide the care she needed at home. Upon admission, she suffered from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and needed assistance with all activities of daily living.
Despite facility staff being aware through assessment information, family information as well as physician notes and orders that Martinez was a high fall risk, the facility failed to create and implement proper care plans to prevent her from falling. As a result, she suffered eleven falls throughout her residency, with the final fall causing a leg fracture.
Additionally, Martinez suffered severe stage 2 pressure ulcers due to a pattern of understaffing in the facility which prevented staff from providing necessary and legally required care. In an unfortunate effort to cover-up the facility’s negligence, nurses concealed Martinez’s conditions from her family, physician and legal representative, and deceitfully told them nothing was wrong.
The lawsuit asserted that Martinez’s injuries were a result of the facility’s plan to cut costs at the expense of its residents. Integral to this plan was the practice and pattern of staffing the facility with an insufficient number of personnel, many of whom were not properly trained or qualified to care for the elders and/or dependent adults whose lives were entrusted to them. In fact, a charge nurse caring for Martinez on the day of her final fall confirmed this reality in riveting testimony before the jury. This mechanism to reduce labor costs predictably resulted in Martinez suffering from prolonged abuse and neglect.
Our elder law attorneys are here to protect the elderly and to seek justice in their name. We handle elder neglect and nursing home abuse cases on a contingent fee basis, which means we charge no upfront costs and you pay no legal fees at all unless we are successful in recovering a settlement or award on your behalf. You have nothing to lose by giving us a call today.
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