Saber Healthcare Faces Class Action Over Understaffed Alzheimer’s Care Units
A class action lawsuit was filed in April 2016 on behalf of hundreds of residents of Alzheimer’s and dementia care units owned and operated by Saber Healthcare Group. The suit claims Saber failed to “provide assisted living services that [met] the minimum needs of the residents” and Saber has a policy of understaffing its facilities.
Three Saber adult care homes are named in the lawsuit: Franklin Manor Assisted Living Center (Youngsville, NC), Gabriel Manor Assisted Living Center (Clayton, NC), and The Crossings at Steele Creek (Charlotte, NC).
Plaintiffs also filed a motion for a Preliminary Injunction to prevent Saber from continuing to staff their facilities below the North Carolina minimum staffing standards, which Plaintiffs allege has resulted in deplorable conditions for the residents, including residents not being bathed for weeks to months, being left to sit in their own waste for hours to days, and not being provided with their medications due to inadequate staffing.
Plaintiffs’ motion for a Preliminary Injunction was heard by the Honorable Donald Stephens, Wake County’s Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, over two days, on May 16, 2016 and May 19, 2016. Judge Stephens considered the fact that the Saber facilities were cited by the North Carolina Division of Health Services Regulation (NC DHSR) 17 times from November 5, 2014 through May 9, 2016 for numerous violations including the failure to meet minimum staffing thresholds, medication administration violations, and a failure to provide appropriate personal care to the residents. Judge Stephens also considered the NC DHSR findings that a resident was left in her own waste for extended periods of time resulting in her skin rubbing off, that residents were locked in or out of their rooms resulting in them soiling themselves due to the inability to access their bathrooms, and that the residents were not treated with respect, consideration and dignity.
At the conclusion of the second day, Judge Stephens ruled that the evidence showed that the Saber facilities failed to staff their adult care homes in compliance with the minimum North Carolina staffing rules, failed to provide care and services to residents of the Saber facilities which are adequate, appropriate and in compliance with federal and State laws, and that the residents were not treated with respect, consideration and dignity. Judge Stephens ruled that the injunction was necessary to prevent an imminent threat of irreparable harm to the residents.
Judge Stephens enjoined the Saber facilities from staffing any shift of any day at levels below the minimum North Carolina staffing ratios. The order further requires an independent monitor to make unannounced visits to the three Saber facilities to verify that the Saber facilities are staffing at minimum North Carolina staffing levels. A copy of the preliminary injunction order is available here.
Within days of Judge Stephens’ ruling, Saber removed the case to federal court, and asserted that North Carolina state courts no longer had jurisdiction with regard to Judge Stephens’ order granting the Preliminary Injunction.
Saber Healthcare Group is based in Ohio and owns and operates 83 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in six states across the country, including Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Plaintiffs’ counsel are investigating potential claims on behalf of residents and families of residents in other Saber Healthcare Group facilities who have not received the care for which they contracted.
For more information about the Saber Healthcare Group lawsuit, please contact Matt Lee or Jeremy Williams at Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP, or Drew Hathaway at Gugenheim Law Offices, P.C. Additional counsel for Plaintiffs include Stephen J. Gugenheim of Gugenheim Law Offices, P.C. and Daniel K. Bryson and Gary E. Mason of Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP. A copy of the complaint is available here.
The name of the case is Jeanne T. Bartels and Joseph J. Pfohl v. Saber Healthcare Group, LLC, et al, No. 16 CVS 382 (N.C. Super., Franklin County, filed April 25, 2016).
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