Judge Denies Motion for Mistrial in Case Against Nursing Home Company
On Friday, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson denied Skilled Healthcare's motion for a mistrial in a class-action lawsuit that imposed about $677 million in damages against the nursing home chain, the Eureka Times-Standard reports (Drange, Eureka Times-Standard, 8/28).
The class-action lawsuit represented about 32,000 individuals who were patients at Skilled Healthcare facilities between 2003 and 2009.
The suit stemmed from allegations about the nursing home chain's adherence to a state law that requires 3.2 nursing hours per patient daily (California Healthline, 8/9).
On July 6, jurors found Skilled Healthcare liable for statutory damages and imposed the largest jury award issued in the U.S. this year. Following the jury's decision, defense attorneys filed for a retrial because of alleged juror misconduct (Pettersson, Bloomberg, 8/27).
In his ruling, Watson said he found no evidence of juror misconduct and no basis for a mistrial.
The judge also issued an injunction that orders all 22 Skilled Healthcare facilities named in the case to immediately comply with California's mandated minimum staffing levels.
In addition, the court called for Skilled Healthcare to cover the costs associated with appointing a third party to oversee each facility's compliance with the staffing requirements.
On Tuesday, attorneys in the case are scheduled to reconvene as the court hears additional arguments on motions filed earlier this month (Eureka Times-Standard, 8/28).
The court is expected to address possible punitive damages against Skilled Healthcare.
In addition, the court will examine whether each facility named in the lawsuit acted as a single enterprise (Drange, Eureka Times-Standard, 8/30).Some analysts have predicted that Skilled Healthcare might file for bankruptcy, which could have major implications for the future of the company's nursing home facilities in California and across the country (Eureka Times-Standard, 8/28). 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.