Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz was always going to have a difficult task convincing California health officials to overturn a ruling that’s blocking his company from taking over five nursing homes.
Rechnitz’s own lawyer, however, has made that challenge even more difficult.
Last year, Rechnitz’ lawyer failed to submit a legal appeal to the California Department of Public Health, thereby triggering the department to issue a default decision against Brius.
In a recent court filing, Mark Johnson of the San Diego-based law firm Hooper, Lundy & Bookman claims he never saw the department’s “accusation,” for which he had 15 days to respond.
Johnson says his office was in the midst of changing procedures for handling incoming mail. He blamed everyone and everything for the error — except himself:
“Unfortunately, neither my support staff nor the docketing software recognized service of the accusation as triggering the 15-day deadline for filing a Notice of Defense,” he wrote.
After Johnson failed to file a timely defense, a CDPH officer issued a default decision upholding the department’s move to block Brius from operating the following nursing homes:
- Anaheim Point Healthcare and Wellness Centre
- Brookdale Healthcare and Wellness Centre
- Chico Heights Rehabilitation and Wellness Centre
- Chico Terrace Healthcare and Wellness Centre
- River Valley Healthcare and Wellness Centre
Now, Johnson is asking for a second chance to file a defense for Brius.
Even if Brius prevails in getting a new hearing, it still has to defend its egregious failures to care for residents. In blocking Brius from taking over the facilities, regulators cited the company’s 386 serious patient care violations over the previous three years.
The CDPH’s action came one year after state Attorney General Kamala Harris filed an emergency motion in federal bankruptcy court seeking to block Brius from taking over 19 nursing homes. In court papers, she called Rechnitz a “serial violator” of nursing home rules.