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Lawsuit filed over nursing home "warehouse"

Posted at 5:30 PM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 18:30:53-04

Relatives of four people who were part of the "warehousing" of nursing home patients last week have filed suit against the owner of the facilities.

The daughter-in-law of a female patient; the wife of a male patient; the curator for a female patient and the responsible part for a female patient all are listed as plaintiffs in the suit fax-filed in Jefferson Parish Wednesday against Baton Rouge developer Bob Dean Jr. and seven nursing homes and Bob Dean Enterprises Inc.

"This is a class action for injunctive relief and damages on behalf of residents of nursing homes evacuated in the wake of Hurricane Ida to a warehouse in Independence, Louisiana, where they endured horrific and inhumane conditions due to the actions and negligence of Defendants," the suit states. "This action seeks redress in the form of injunctive relief under the Louisiana Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights Act (“NHRBRA”) and for damages arising from the general tort laws of

The suit, which you can read for yourself below, also asks the court to declare these plaintiffs and others similarly situated as a class, which would then allow the case to proceed as a class action.

It alleges that Dean controlled the evacuation of more than 840 residents of his southeast Louisiana nursing homes to a warehouse in Independence which he also owned - and that he did not follow any evacuation plans in place.

"From the outset, Defendants intentionally misrepresented the actual evacuation plan, choosing not to inform family members of the planned evacuation or tell them where the residents were being taken. Families who went to extreme lengths and great effort were finally able to speak with a representative of Defendant Dean or a representative of one of the Bob Dean, Jr. Nursing
Homes, and were told that their loved one would be moved to an allegedly hurricane-proof building in Tangipahoa Parish with suitable accommodations for the resident population and all needed medical supplies available," the suit alleges.

The suit accuses Dean of telling officials that the facility could safely house 200 to 400 patients - but in reality it was simply an industrial warehouse that wasn't safe to house any of the elderly and medically frail residents who were sent there. The only restrooms were portable toilets, which were positioned near the feeding area, the lawsuit alleges.

"No reasonable steps or measures were taken or accomplished by Defendants to prepare the Waterbury Building with sufficient resources or accommodations for the residents in a way that offered residents any semblance of privacy or accounted for residents’ basic personal hygiene needs and basic human dignity. There were only four sinks and ten to twelve showers available to the 843 residents, plus staff," the suit alleges.

There weren't enough beds for the people who were brought there, and some nursing home residents slept on the concrete floor, the suit alleges. However, several people who identified themselves as "corporate nurses" did have beds, the suit alleges. The warehouse wasn't hurricane proof, and rainwater began pouring in; some residents were then moved to another part of the warehouse - meaning conditions were even more crowded, the suit alleges.

After the storm passed, things got worse.

"The excessive heat caused by the increasing temperature, lack of proper insulation in the building, and failed air conditioning system, coupled with the lack of sufficient water and food supply caused many residents to suffer dehydration," the suit alleges. "Residents unsuccessfully called out to the representatives of Defendants for food, water, medicine, and to be relieved of their soiled diapers, clothes, and bed linens (for those who were provided linens) but their calls went unanswered. Many residents spent as many as six (6) days in the fetid warehouse with overflowing toilets and piled-up trash."

At least seven people who were there have died, and at least 14 more were hospitalized, the suit alleges. The suit alleges that it is likely that more people will die or require hospitalization because of what they endured.

Initially, when state officials arrived to check out the conditions, Dean himself kicked them off the property, the suit alleges. Finally they returned to shut down the warehouse and get the residents out, the suit states.

Even then, Dean did not notify any caregivers or relatives of the residents; instead those people had to hear about what was happening via media reports, the suit alleges. One of the plaintiffs still has been unable to locate his relative, the suit states.

In addition to the request for a class designation and for damages, the plaintiffs are requesting a protective order that would prevent Dean and any of his employees or agents from "disposing of any records, documents, communications, including text messages and emails, and any other evidence related to the evacuation or the evacuation plan, or property of the Plaintiff Class in Defendants’ actual or constructive possession and/or present at a nursing home."

The suit was filed by Couhig Partners LLC, a New Orleans firm.