A group of California skilled nursing facilities operated by Paksn Inc. has “systematically” failed to meet state minimums for direct patient care and staffing, according to a state court class action.
Maryann N. Valentine says Vacaville, Calif.-based Paksn, Thekkek Health Services, and seven nursing homes and licensees owned by Antony and Prema Thekkek have continuously failed to provide 3.2 hours of daily, direct nursing care to each patient as mandated by Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1276.5.
The complaint in the Alameda County Superior Court asks the court to hold the defendants liable for up to $500 per violation and treble damages because the infractions involve senior citizens and disabled people.
Valentine filed suit as guardian of her ex-husband, George E. Valentine II, 61, who suffered a brain injury and has “extremely limited” mobility. He has lived at Gateway Rehabilitation & Care Center in Hayward, Calif., since 2000, she says.
According to the suit, the level of care that Valentine receives faltered when the defendants acquired Gateway in 2003. Since that time, the facility routinely has failed to meet the state minimum for direct nursing care hours and maintains an inadequate number of nurses on staff.
George Valentine has experienced infrequent and painful turning and repositioning that resulted in pressure sores, and also has experienced infrequent assistance with toileting, frequent urinary tract infections and unsanitary living conditions, the suit asserts.
The facility has also failed to provide Valentine with necessary fluids or assistance with grooming, bathing and eating, and has failed to respond to his medical and dental problems and falls, the complaint says.
Other California facilities owned by the Thekkeks and operated by Paksn have provided similarly deficient care since 2006, according to the suit.
The complaint identifies the facilities as Martinez Convalescent Hospital, Windwor House Convalescent Hospital, Fircrest Convalescent Hospital, Baypoint Health Care Center, La Mariposa Rehabilitation Care Center, Park Central Care & Rehabilitation Center and Manteca Care & Rehabilitation Center.
The defendants have engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices by representing that they meet or exceed federal requirements for skilled nursing facilities although falling short of the 3.2-hour daily minimum for direct nursing care at least 25 percent of the time over the past four years, the suit alleges.
Documents provided to state health officials show the defendants “unconscionably” decreased their staffing levels each year from 2007 to 2009, the complaint says.
Valentine alleges the defendants violated Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1430(b) by failing to meet daily minimums for direct nursing care or to maintain adequate staffing levels.
They also violated the state’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1750, by failing to disclose staffing deficiencies to residents and by misrepresenting in promotional materials and admissions agreements the standard of care provided, the suit says.
Valentine seeks class certification and an order enjoining the defendants from further violations of the state laws. She also seeks statutory, actual, treble and punitive damages, restitution, pre- and post-judgment interest, and fees and costs.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys are Robert S. Arns and Jonathan E. Davis of the Arns Law Firm in San Francisco; Kathryn A. Stebner and Sarah Colby of Stebner & Associates in San Francisco; and Michael D. Thamer of Callahan, Calif.
Valentine et al. v. Thekkek Health Services Inc. et al., No. 10546266, complaint filed (Cal. Super. Ct., Alameda County Nov. 12, 2010).