EUREKA, Calif. - (Mealey's) A class action involving violations of nursing home staffing regulations at Skilled Healthcare Group nursing facilities in California settled for $62.8 million Sept. 8. The parties came to an agreement after a jury in the Humboldt County Superior Court awarded the class plaintiffs $671 million for violations of state nursing home staffing requirements in July (Vinnie Lavender, et al. v. Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc., No. DR060264, Calif. Super., Humboldt Co.).
The proposed settlement still needs court approval, the parties said in a joint press release. The settlement value includes the costs of an injunction to ensure proper staffing levels, valued at $12.8 million, and an additional $50 million to cover settlement payments to class members, notice and claims administration costs, certain service payments to named plaintiffs and plaintiffs' attorney fees and costs, the parties said.
According to the proposed settlement, the injunction requiring the defendant nursing homes to maintain staffing levels at state minimum levels will remain in effect for two years unless extended for additional three-month periods as to any defendants that may be found to be in violation.
In 2006, Vinnie Lavender, James Brewer, Walter Simon and Jacquelyn Vilchinsky filed a class action complaint against Skilled Healthcare and 23 subsidiaries, alleging that they failed to provide 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day and misrepresented the quality of care. The plaintiffs also asserted claims under California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 and the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
The Superior Court on Aug. 27 issued a decision on a post-trial motion for a new trial Skilled Healthcare filed Aug. 6. Skilled Healthcare asserted juror misconduct and singled out one juror for showing a "blatant bias" stemming from "pretrial familiarity with a defendant facility."
The court concluded that there was no misconduct on the part of the accused juror.
[Editor's Note: Full coverage will be in the September issue of Mealey's Litigation Report: Nursing Home Liability. In the meantime, the decision on the defendants' motion for a mistrial or a new trial is available at www.mealeysonline.com or by calling the Customer Support Department at 1-800-833-9844. Document #02-100910-006Z. For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.]
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For more information, call editor Beth Caputo at 610-927-1003, or e-mail her at Beth.Caputo@lexisnexis.com