The families of two men who died after developing pressure sores in Brius nursing homes have filed lawsuits against the company and its CEO Shlomo Rechnitz.
The suits, filed in Humboldt County Superior Court, claim the deaths could have been prevented had Brius adequately staffed the homes, according to a report in the Eureka Times-Standard and a copy of court records.
Ralph Sorensen and Randy Kruger both died after developing pressure ulcers that became infected, according to the lawsuits. Kruger resided at the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center and Sorenson resided at the nearby Seaview Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.
The lawsuits come just one month after the California Department of Public Health issued $160,000 in fines to the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center for patient care violations stemming from low staffing levels and poor oversight.
Pressure ulcers form when patients spend too much time in one position, which is often the case at nursing homes that are not adequately staffed. The families’ attorney, W. Timothy Needham of the firm Janssen Malloy LLP, told the Times-Standard that it appeared that both facilities “are being consciously understaffed.”
In Kruger’s case, the Brius facility failed to properly treat a pressure sore that formed on his tailbone last August, attorneys alleged in court papers. Three months later Kruger died of a bone infection and pneumonia.
“You have to realize what (they) have literally done is they’ve allowed this person to rot to the point that they’ve got a hole in their back so large you can put your fist in all the way to their backbone,” Needham told the Times Standard.
The lawsuit, filed by Randy Kruger’s wife, seeks damages for wrongful death, negligence, and elder abuse under California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. The suit, attached below, states:
“The continuing pattern of abuse, as alleged above, was a direct result of defendants’ conscious plan to operate Eureka at inadequate staffing and patient care levels to wrongfully maximize their business profits, including patient dumping to avoid incurring costs associated with transfer to another appropriate facility under the law.”
In Sorenson’s case, the Seaview facility never alerted his family or doctor that he had developed an ulcer,” attorneys alleged in court papers.
State regulators fined the Brius facility $40,000 in connection with Sorensen’s death, but Brius is appealing the fine, the paper reported.