Court OKs Settlement in Case Against California Nursing Home Chain
On Tuesday, the Humboldt County Superior Court approved a $62.8 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging that nursing home chain Skilled Healthcare failed to provide sufficient staffing levels for its patients, the Eureka Times-Standard reports. Â
The settlement is nearly identical to a preliminary agreement reached in September (Drange, Eureka Times-Standard, 12/1).
In July, a Humboldt County Superior Court jury found Skilled Healthcare liable for understaffing each of its 22 California facilities. State law requires 3.2 nursing hours per patient daily.
The nursing home chain appealed the verdict, arguing that its facilities were appropriately staffed. Meanwhile, observers expressed concern that the verdict amount would have bankrupted the company (California Healthline, 9/9).
Totaling Up the Settlement
The settlement includes $12.8 million that Skilled Healthcare will pay to comply with an injunction requiring it to maintain state-mandated staffing levels. The injunction allows a third-party monitor to inspect each facility involved in the lawsuit for compliance withÂ staffing requirements. The injunction will be in effect for two years, but could be reduced if a facility maintains compliance for 18 months.
Up to $26 million of the settlement is expected to go to individuals represented by the class action lawsuit. Up to $20 million could go toward attorney fees and an additional $2 million could go to the Humboldt County district attorney's office.
Timothy Needham, lead trial attorney for the plaintiffs, said his office has received about 4,000 claims since it distributed news of the settlement over one month ago.
Individuals represented by the class-action lawsuit have until Jan. 5 to file claims (Eureka Times-Standard, 12/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.