On November 11, 2021 NBC BayArea broadcast an investigative piece, “Nation’s Largest Senior Living Operator Accused of Neglect, Abuse,” that highlights the federal class action brought by RBGG and co-counsel in July 2017 on behalf of current and former residents of Brookdale Senior Living facilities in California alleging elder financial abuse and widespread violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).
RBGG’s Gay Grunfeld is quoted in the story: “What we’re trying to do here is change the way Brookdale staffs its facilities and the lack of accessible features for people with disabilities. . . Aging people, seniors, people with disabilities are extremely vulnerable. They need to be treated with dignity and respect. . . .We are trying to ensure that at least this one provider that has so many locations in California starts to comply with those basic mandates.”
Latest developments in the case:
On August 18, 2021, Plaintiffs in Stiner et al. v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc. et al., N.D. Cal. Case No. 4:17-cv-03962-HSG (LB), filed a Motion for Class Certification (“Motion”). The motion included 82 declarations of individuals who live in Brookdale’s California facilities in California or witnessed conditions there, 10 declarations from named Plaintiffs, seven declarations from experts, 52 reports on architectural barriers found in Brookdale facilities, various other pleadings and a memorandum of points and authorities. According to that memorandum:
…[T]housands of vulnerable senior citizens and persons with disabilities seek redress for violations of their statutory rights under federal and California law. Defendants Brookdale Senior Living, Inc. and Brookdale Senior Living Communities, Inc. (“Defendants” or “Brookdale”) have subjected the putative class members to systemic violations of their civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 51 et seq. (Unruh Act). Further, in violation of California’s consumer protection laws, Brookdale has subjected the putative class members to a deceptive scheme in which it promises to assess their needs for care and then provide care services to them. Brookdale, however, does not disclose to the putative class members that it has a policy and practice of understaffing its facilities, and that as a result, the residents of its assisted living facilities are placed at a substantial risk of being denied care services on any given day. The residents pay thousands of dollars to Brookdale every month for care that they often do not receive, while Brookdale pockets literally billions of dollars and strips them of their life savings. In short, Brookdale’s wrongful conduct has subjected the putative class members to discrimination, deception, elder financial abuse and indignity.
Plaintiffs seek certification of the following three classes pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) and (b)(3):
- All persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility aids or who have vision disabilities and who reside or have resided at a residential care facility for the elderly located in California and owned, operated and/or managed by Brookdale during the three years prior to the filing of the Complaint herein through the conclusion of this action, including their successors-in-interest if deceased, excluding any persons who are subject to arbitration.
- All persons with disabilities who require assistance with activities of daily living and who reside or have resided at a residential care facility for the elderly located in California and owned, operated and/or managed by Brookdale during the three years prior to the filing of the Complaint herein through the conclusion of this action, including their successors-in-interest if deceased, excluding any persons who are subject to arbitration.
- All persons who resided or reside at one of the residential care facilities for the elderly located in California and owned, operated and/or managed by Brookdale during the period from May 16, 2015 through the conclusion of this action, and who contracted with Brookdale or another assisted living facility for services for which Brookdale was paid money, including their successors-in-interest if deceased, excluding any persons who are subject to arbitration.
Each potential class includes between 3,500 and 7,000 possible members.
The Motion asserts that, as a result of understaffing, Brookdale’s facilities have frequently been cited by California’s Department of Social Services. The Agency has documented multiple violations across the State, including failing to provide adequate incontinence care to residents, leaving multiple residents in urine-soaked clothing and bedding; finding a resident with ants in her diaper; finding a resident with dried feces in their fingernails and feces on the bedspread and towels; finding wounds to a resident’s buttocks and thighs from sitting in waste for prolonged amounts of time; and failing to provide timely assistance with bathing, dressing and eating due to staffing shortages. The Motion also documents systemic violations of the ADA, including approximately 15,000—25,000 barriers to accessibility and inadequate evacuation and transportation policies and procedures.
Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief and damages under the ADA, the Unruh Act, the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, the Unfair Competition Law, and the Elder Financial Abuse statute.
Defendants’ Opposition to the Motion is in January 20, 2022; Plaintiffs’ Reply is due April 21, 2022; and oral argument will be held before the Honorable Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. in federal district court in Oakland on May 26, 2022.
For further information please contact:
Guy B. Wallace
Kathryn A. Stebner
Gay Crosthwait Grunfeld