Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Brutally Assaulted & Unlawfully Medicated Due to Corona Nursing Facility’s Negligence

Corona, Calif. — Hope Escamilla, a 93-year-old woman, was admitted to Corona Post-Acute Center, for 24-hour supervision and care following brain surgery. It’s alleged that during her short residency, she was brutally assaulted, chemically restrained, and suffered a fall and cellulitis infection, all due to the negligence of facility staff. Following an assault by another resident known to have violent propensities, Escamilla was hospitalized for severe bruising and a bump on her head; she never returned to the facility. According to the Complaint, the facility blatantly ignored the grievances and complaints voiced by Escamilla’s family throughout her stay regarding the signs of physical abuse and chemical restraints. This alleged abuse and neglect caused unnecessary and prolonged suffering for both Escamilla and her family.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Corona Post-Acute Center for elder abuse, negligent hiring and supervision, and assault and battery.

“Corona Post-Acute Center assured Hope and her family that the facility was sufficiently staffed and funded to be able to meet her needs, but unfortunately, based on the alleged attack by another resident and the practice of giving Hope unnecessary psychotropic drugs, it’s clear that this was a lie,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Sadly, it seems she was not the only resident who did not receive legally required care from facility operators and staff. We have reason to believe that the facility’s sole focus of increasing revenue and profit margins, led to a widespread withholding of care to residents, including Hope.”

Allegations and Background

In January 2019, Escamilla was admitted to the facility after an approximately three-month-long post-operative stay at Community Care & Rehabilitation Center. She had undergone brain surgery for a brain bleed caused by multiple falls.

Upon admission to the facility, Escamilla was wholly dependent upon staff for all activities of daily living, including feeding and hydration, clothing, laundry, hygiene, mobility, medication, treatments and nursing care to assess and report changes in her condition, and when needed, to arrange hospital transfer.

The lawsuit alleges that rather than providing the quality care Escamilla needed, as required to do by law, the facility instead failed to put proper care plans in place or to implement proper care. This substandard treatment resulted in accidents that included a fall, and an assault and battery at the hands of facility residents with known dangerous and violent propensities. The facility also gave Escamilla unauthorized psychotropic medication as a form of chemical restraint.

On February 1, 2019, Escamilla exhibited signs of overmedication the lawsuit alleged. When confronted by her family regarding her behavioral changes, facility staff said that they were giving her Seroquel to calm her down during episodes of agitation in the evenings. Escamilla, however, was constantly sleeping. By this time, she was also experiencing a cellulitis flare-up as exhibited by severe swelling and redness in her leg. She told her family that her call signals for toileting assistance were routinely ignored by staff and, as a result, she was left for significant periods lying in bed soaked from urine.

By about mid-February, the facility was giving Escamilla Ativan in addition to Seroquel. They had also relocated her to another part of the facility. When her family asked facility staff the reasons for using anti-psychotic and anxiety medications, they stated it was to calm her down and control her during episodes of agitation and combativeness. Escamilla was so allegedly overmedicated during this encounter that she couldn’t hold her head up. Concerned for her well-being and safety, her family notified the facility of the signs of suspected abuse.

On or about February 19, 2019, Escamilla was found by her family with suspicious bruising on her arms and legs, and a large bump on her head. She was taken to Glendora Community Hospital where she was admitted to the psychiatric ward. Escamilla never returned to the facility.

The lawsuit alleges that rather than acknowledge and promptly resolve the grievances of Escamilla’s family, the facility blatantly ignored their complaints about the signs of physical abuse and chemical restraint. The facility staff avoided the issue for weeks with excuses. When her family brought up the signs of physical abuse, the facility closed the door of a “private” meeting. This unlawful refusal to resolve the allegations of physical abuse and overmedication continued for weeks.

On or about March 2, 2019, the facility finally informed the family that Escamilla had been physically assaulted by another resident with known violent propensities, which had resulted in the bump and bruising to her head, arms and legs and subsequent hospital transfer. Prior to the assault and battery of Escamilla, this resident and others were allegedly known by the facility to have violent and dangerous propensities that endangered the health and safety of facility residents.

The lawsuit states that despite her advanced age and conditions at the time of admission, Escamilla’s quality of life was greatly impacted by the lack of quality medical care and interventions received while at the facility. This wrongful withholding of care was due to the facility’s failure to provide sufficient budget and staffing to meet Escamilla’s needs as is legally required for nursing facilities.