Lawsuit Filed: Dependent Adult Woman Severely Neglected at Shafter Nursing Home; Facility Attempts to Wrongfully Evict and Retaliates Against Her

Shafter, Calif. — Jane Cothern, a 63-year-old dependent adult woman, was admitted to Golden Living Center – Shafter, for skilled nursing care and to regain her ability to walk following hospitalization for skin tears. It’s alleged that while a resident of the facility, Cothern developed numerous Stage IV pressure sores and urinary tract infections, and suffered falls and injuries due to the negligence of facility staff. Further, the Complaint states that the facility attempted to illegally discharge Cothern, and retaliated and discriminated against her for cooperating in the Department of Health Services investigation regarding her care. When Cothern left the facility in June 2018, she was still unable to walk, which forced her to have to retire from work.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Golden Living Center – Shafter for dependent adult abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“Jane was admitted to Golden Living Center – Shafter expecting to receive rehabilitative nursing care that would allow her to walk again. Regaining the ability to walk was critical to Jane returning to her professional career in speech therapy with the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District, where she had worked for more than 25 years,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Instead, the alleged incompetent care Jane received at the facility, and subsequent humiliation and intimidation tactics, actually worsened her health conditions and she had no choice but to stop working. By ignoring Jane’s needs and withholding legally mandated care, the facility sadly cost Jane both her health and her livelihood.”

Allegations and Background

Since approximately 1991, Cothern was employed by Panama-Buena Vista Union School District as a speech therapist. Until May 2017, she lived at home alone and was able to take care of all her daily needs.

On July 18, 2017, Cothern was sent to Memorial Hospital Bakersfield for treatment relating to a recent history of skin tears on her legs, buttocks and back, and recurring wound infections. Cothern was unable to participate in rehabilitation therapy due to pain in her legs from the skin tears and infection.

On August 12, 2017, Cothern was admitted to Golden Living Center – Shafter for rehabilitation. She was expected to return to work on February 7, 2018, after undergoing rehabilitation to regain her ability to walk. Instead, she spent 10 months at the facility and has yet to regain her ability to walk.

The lawsuit alleges that while Cothern was a resident of the facility, facility staff withheld the necessary care and services she required, despite full knowledge of her medical conditions and needs. The facility knew that Cothern had pre-existing medical conditions that left her at high risk for falls, pressure sores and infections, and that she required assistance with all activities of daily living. This assistance included turning and repositioning, transferring between her bed and wheelchair, dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting assistance and medication management. As a result of the facility’s alleged lack of attendance to her needs, Cothern suffered severe and avoidable Stage IV pressure sores on her back and buttocks, multiple catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and injuries from falling.

The suit alleges that the injuries to Cothern would not have occurred if the facility had simply adhered to the applicable rules, laws and regulations governing the operation of a skilled nursing facility.

To further compound matters, the suit alleges that the facility fraudulently submitted claims for services rendered during Cothern’s residency. On January 23, 2018, the facility issued a Notice of Transfer or Discharge to Cothern due to nonpayment.

On March 15, 2018, the Department of Health Services (DHS) issued a written decision prohibiting the facility from discharging Cothern. After the discharge investigation by the DHS, the facility retaliated and discriminated against Cothern for cooperating in the investigation, the suit alleges. The retaliatory treatment took many forms, including humiliation and intimidation, ongoing cruel and unusual living conditions, and unabated wrongful withholding of care and services, which continued until her discharge.

After leaving the facility on June 18, 2018, Cothern’s condition left her no option but to retire and suffer the consequences of lost income.

The lawsuit states that the withholding of care and services to Cothern was the direct result of the facility’s plan to cut costs at the expense of residents. Integral to the plan was the facility operators’ practice and pattern of staffing with an insufficient number of personnel, many of whom were not trained or qualified to care for the dependent adults and elders in their care.