Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a lawsuit against Valley Convalescent Hospital in Bakersfield on behalf of the family of an 80-year-old patient who died as a result of neglect at the facility.
Robert Hopkins fell from his bed in February while housed at the facility after a nursing assistant failed to ensure a guard rail was properly set. He suffered a fracture in his vertebrae below the skull, spent a week in the hospital, returned to Valley Convalescent Hospital on Feb. 28, and died the following day.
The California Department of Public Health determined Hopkins’ death was a result of his fall. The Department fined the facility $100,000 and it received the most severe penalty under California law (Class AA Citation). Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed an elder neglect and wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Hopkins’ family.
“The purpose of filing this lawsuit is to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring again in the future,” said attorney Neil K. Gehlawat. Chain | Cohn | Stiles announced the filing of the lawsuit during a press conference, streamed live by KERO-23, ABC. “Valley Convalescent and other skilled nursing facilities need to understand that if they drop the ball when it comes to patient safety, there will be consequences, and those consequences will be severe.”
Valley Convalescent Hospital has had a long history of complaints for elder abuse and neglect. Since 2012, the California Department of Public Health has recorded nine complaints of patients falling, and has taken action against the facility 15 times since 2006, according to reports. Valley Convalescent has been fined more than $160,000 since 2003. This year, it has received eight complaints, and the Department has found 28 deficiencies, reports show.
The family of Robert Hopkins hopes to prevent future similar incidents in Kern County. The Hopkins family is being represented by Neil K. Gehlawat and Felicia Schoepfer-Altmiller of Chain | Cohn | Stiles.
— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles
VALLEY CONVALESCENT FINES, PENALTIES COVERAGE
- ‘I’m falling, I’m falling.’ State blames elderly dementia patient’s death on Valley Convalescent Hospital care, fines facility $100,000 (The Bakersfield Californian – July 19, 2017)
- State fines local convalescent hospital $100,000 following patient death investigation (KGET-17, NBC – July 19, 2017)
- CDPH fines Kern County facility in death of resident (KERO-23, ABC – July 19, 2017)
- State issues most severe penalty possible to Bakersfield skilled-nursing facility (KBAK-KBFX, 29-58, CBS-FOX – July 19, 2017)
LAWSUIT MEDIA COVERAGE
- Valley Convalescent accused of neglect, lawsuit filed (KERO-23, ABC – July 27, 2017)
- Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Bakersfield hospital in connection with patient’s death (The Bakersfield California – July 27, 2017)
- Family sues over Valley Convalescent Hospital patient’s death (KBAK-KBFX, 29-58, CBS-FOX – July 27, 2017)
- Family files legal complaint against Valley Convalescent Hospital (KBAK-KBFX, 29-58, CBS-FOX – July 27, 2017)
- Lawsuit filed against skilled nursing home (KUZZ News – July 27, 2017)
- Press Conference Livestream (KERO-23, ABC – July 27, 2017)