Lawsuit Filed: Dependent Adult Woman Wanders and Goes Missing for More Than Two Weeks Due to Retirement Facility’s Negligence; Facility Cited by California Department of Social Services

Lancaster, Calif. – Linda Diane Escarrega, a dependent adult woman, suffered from significant medical conditions, including wheelchair dependence, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and a propensity to wander, all of which rendered her gravely disabled. She was admitted to Antelope Valley Retirement Villa on December 19, 2017 for complete supervision and assistance with all activities of daily living (ADL) as a result of her conditions. It’s alleged that during her residency in the facility, Escarrega was neither monitored nor were there any interventions implemented by the facility to protect her due to her conditions and disorders. Predictably, shortly following admission, Escarrega eloped from the facility and went missing for more than two weeks. According to the lawsuit, Escarrega’s sister called the facility to check on her and the facility falsely denied she was ever admitted nor were the police contacted, which forced Escarrega’s family to conduct their own search for her. On January 14, 2018, Escarrega appeared in her wheelchair at her family’s home miles away from the facility, and was dirty, malnourished, dehydrated and suffering from cellulitis. The California Department of Social Services conducted three unannounced investigations on January 23, 2018 issuing deficiency citations against the facility for the withholding of care from facility residents, including Escarrega.

Garcia, Artigliere & Medby filed a lawsuit against Antelope Valley Retirement Villa for dependent abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“Antelope Valley Retirement Villa knew the extent of Linda’s health and safety risks, and that she required 100% assistance with her ADL’s, and thus her condition rendered her ‘prohibited’ from admission to the facility,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Notwithstanding this knowledge and eager to collect the monthly payment from Linda for her occupancy, the facility elected to admit her anyway. Linda’s avoidable injuries and the facility’s failure to ensure her safety, were the direct result of an alleged plan by the facility to increase its bottom line at the expense of residents.”

Allegations and Background

Upon Escarrega’s elopement from Antelope Valley Retirement Villa, it’s alleged no one from the facility bothered to contact her family to notify them that she went missing. In fact, the facility was unaware that Escarrega had eloped until seven days after her elopement. Even worse, the first time Escarrega’s sister called the facility to check on her, the facility staff falsely explained that Escarrega never arrived to the facility on December 19, 2017. The facility’s fraudulent concealment of Escarrega’s elopement persisted for weeks with the facility’s staff repeatedly denying Escarrega’s admission and continually ignoring her family’s attempts to find her.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) conducted an unannounced “Case Management – Incident” on December 26, 2017 regarding a Special Incident Report received on December 22, 2017 involving a resident reporting to facility staff on December 9, 2017 that the resident had been raped on December 5, 2017. The CDSS investigation concluded with multiple deficiencies cited against the facility relating to understaffing. These violations were determined cause for the CDSS’s suspension of the facility’s license under Health & Safety Code §1569.50(c). Additionally, the facility was issued a civil penalty for a repeat violation of the “Reporting Requirements” of 22 California Code of Regulations §8211(a)(1) and first cited on September 8, 2017. (See Exhibit “1” attached hereto, a true and correct copy of the “Facility Evaluation Report” dated December 26, 2017.)

Notwithstanding receiving the “complaint investigations” and deficiency citations noted above on December 26, 2017, the facility’s indifference of their responsibility to monitor and supervise Escarrega, and their responsibility to find her continued for weeks. Remarkably, the facility later confirmed during an investigation by the Conservator’s Office on December 29, 2017, that Escarrega had eloped from the facility. Yet, the facility still did not contact the police.

Escarrega’s family finally called the police themselves on January 3, 2018. This was the first time the police had been notified. Unfortunately, the facility staff allegedly continued the cover-up scheme of its misconduct, falsely explaining to the police that Escarrega was never their responsibility to monitor nor find. Remarkably, these representations were made by facility staff with Escarrega’s name written on the facility whiteboard designated for newly admitted residents. The police search for Escarrega was unavailing.

The facility later explained to the Conservator’s Office on January 4, 2018, that the facility employee designated to investigate Escarrega’s case had not only resigned from the facility, but that she had provided her resignation notice two weeks prior. However, by this point, Escarrega had been missing for two and a half weeks.

Finally, on January 14, 2018 at approximately 3:30 a.m., Escarrega appeared in her wheelchair at her family’s front door in Compton. Escarrega’s family asked where she had been. Escarrega explained that she had spent the past several weeks begging for money until she was able to afford food and transportation from Lancaster to Union Station, where she then wheeled herself to Compton.