Stephen Garcia Authors Article on Nursing Home Mandates in The Advocate
In the article, “Private enforcement of nursing home staffing mandates”, published by The Advocate, Founding Partner Stephen Garcia discussed that understaffing in skilled nursing facilities is one of the primary causes of violations of residents’ rights, inadequate care and unsafe conditions. According to the California Department of Public Health, 69 percent of audited skilled nursing home facilities did not comply with minimal staffing requirements between 2006 and 2007.
In part to address the ineffectiveness of public enforcement of resident rights, the California Legislature enacted the Health and Safety Code section 1430, which states that a current or former resident of a skilled nursing facility may bring a private civil action against the licensee of a skilled nursing facility that violates any rights of the resident set forth in the Patients Bill of Rights or any other state or federal law.
Unfortunately, 1430(b), an important and worthy objective, has been abused by attorneys. A few unscrupulous attorneys routinely seized upon filing private class actions under 1430(b) in hopes to obtain wind fall of attorney’s fees awards while their clients received little to nothing. However, Mr. Garcia highlighted the case, Nevarez v San Marino Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre, which clarified the ambiguities in section 1430 and put a stop to its abusive practice of attorneys placing their fees in front of the important societal goals of 1430(b). Accordingly, 1430(b) is a potent device to ensure the rights of skilled nursing facility residents and to help protect one of the most vulnerable segments of our population while at the same time unscrupulous attorneys who place their self-interest in front of the elder are reined in by 1430(b).