Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Suffers Multiple Physical Assaults Due to Negligence at a Fresno Residential Care Facility

Fresno, Calif. — Fred Colley, Jr., an elderly man with schizophrenia, was admitted to Bella Vista Memory Care Community for required attention and care, which included services to protect him from health and safety hazards. The facility also admitted and retained DOES 1 and 2 as residents, despite their known aggressive propensities. Predictably, as the direct result of the alleged wrongful withholding of care to protect Colley, DOES 1 and 2 violently attacked Colley in separate incidents, requiring medical treatment at Veteran Affairs Hospital in Fresno. Rather than appropriately intervene as requested by Colley’s family and the Fresno police to prevent future altercations, the facility retained DOE 2, forcing residents, including Colley, to remain in close quarters with a known physically violent resident. DOE 2 continued to subject Colley to assaultive behaviors before Colley was removed from the facility by his family on December 31, 2017.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Bella Vista Memory Care Community for elder abuse, negligent hiring and supervision, and assault and battery.

“Fred was forced to endure unjustifiable pain and suffering when Bella Vista Memory Care Community could have easily provided legally required care to protect his health and safety,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Sadly, it’s evident facility management chose to put its residents at risk by retaining violent residents to simply cash checks and increase revenue. Even more disturbing is that facility management consciously and intentionally, in an effort to fraudulently conceal their misconduct, did not report the horrific assaults to local law enforcement as legally required, nor fulfill their mandated reporting responsibilities as set forth in state rules, laws and regulations.”

Allegations and Background

According to the lawsuit, by the time Colley was admitted to Bella Vista Memory Care Community, DOES 1 and 2 were already known aggressive residents who placed the health and safety of all other residents at high risk for physical assaults. Moreover, the facility maintained DOES 1 and 2 as residents even though they were legally precluded from doing so pursuant to 22 Code of Regulations §87455(c), provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

(c) No resident shall be accepted or retained if any of the following apply:

(2) The resident requires 24-hour, skilled nursing or intermediate care as specified in Health and Safety Code §§1569.72(a) and (a)(1).

(3) The resident’s primary need for care and supervision results from either:

(A) An ongoing behavior, caused by a mental disorder, that would upset the general resident group; or

(B) Dementia, unless the requirements of Section 87705, Care of Persons with Dementia, are met.

As a result of this withholding of care, in or around May of 2016, DOE 1 violently assaulted Colley, viscously biting and leaving marks on his hand. Colley was sent to Veteran Affairs Hospital.

Immediately, Colley’s family complained to the facility asking that appropriate and required services be provided to protect him from subsequent violent physical assault by residents. Rather than appropriately intervening to prevent future altercations, the facility staff failed to separate Colley from DOES 1 and 2. As the direct result of the wrongful withholding of required care by the facility, in or around May of 2017, DOE 2 violently assaulted Colley, brutally beating him on the head with a wrought iron chair. The facility then failed to notify Colley’s family and the police of the brutal attack, and in an attempt to fraudulently conceal their misconduct, staff unnecessarily waited following the incident before transferring Colley to Veteran Affairs Hospital where he was eventually found by his family covered in blood from the entirely preventable assault.

Following the assault by DOE 2, the facility administrator was expressly directed by Fresno police officers to immediately discharge DOE 2 as a resident in specific acknowledgement of the risks posed by DOE 2 to the health and safety of residents. Again, the facility failed to take any action and remove DOE 2 as a resident, forcing Colley to remain in close quarters with a known physically violent resident.

Prior to being discharged from the facility, Colley was again sent to Veteran Affairs Hospital where he was diagnosed with ringworm. A facility staff member admitted the facility was fully aware that Colley’s roommate had ringworm. It’s evident the facility consciously disregarded this risk, leading to Colley’s additional injuries.