State Supreme Court Allows Patients To Sue Nursing Home Owner
On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a group of patients can sue Covenant Care for allegedly violating California nurse-staffing standards, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Covenant Care owns 16 nursing homes in Alameda County.
State standards require long-term skilled-nursing facilities to provide each patient with 3.2 hours of nursing care per day.
Details of Legal Action
The patients filed a lawsuit against Covenant alleging that it violated state standards at least 35% of the time over a four-year period, beginning in December 2006.
Covenant sought to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that only state regulators have the power to enforce the standards and that state law does not authorize a private lawsuit on the matter.
Details of Supreme Court Decision
In the 3-0 ruling, Presiding Justice Ignazio Ruvolo said state law allows nursing home residents "to bring actions themselves to remedy violations of their rights," such as the "right to reside in an adequately staffed facility."
The court denied review of Covenant's appeal.
Reaction to Ruling
Patricia McGinnis -- executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform -- said the ruling is important because the state Department of Public Health has not been able to enforce the staffing standards.
She said, "You can file a complaint [with DPH], but good luck in getting the investigation completed." McGinnis added that private lawsuits are "the only remedy that people in nursing homes have."Covenant's lawyers could not be reached for comment (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/14). 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.