Los Angeles – City Attorney Mike Feuer announced today that his Office has filed its second lawsuit within two years against Lakeview Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility over allegations of patient dumping during the pandemic, patient abuse and neglect, denial of medical care and efforts to conceal its conduct. In 2019, Feuer reached a settlement with the Westlake/MacArthur Park facility requiring it to pay civil penalties and submit to a court-ordered monitor to oversee Lakeview Terrace’s operations. The settlement was intended to resolve allegations that Lakeview Terrace dumped patients and didn’t meet quality of care mandates.
"We're taking aggressive action to protect nursing home patients, who are especially vulnerable during this deadly pandemic, from serious allegations of abuse and neglect," said Feuer. "We allege this facility's conduct continues to jeopardize its patients--despite our previous lawsuit, injunction, six-figure settlement, court-appointed Monitor and enforcement by state regulators. We won't let up until we know these patients receive the treatment they deserve."
According to the complaint, over the past several months, Lakeview Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility has allegedly unlawfully discharged sick, elderly and disabled patients into facilities unable to care for them, without getting consent from these patients or their families—a practice known as patient dumping—to make room for new, incoming patients. Nursing homes receive substantially higher reimbursements for Medicare-covered patients, and can receive up to $600 more per patient in reimbursements for Medicare patients suffering from COVID-19. Typically, however, reimbursement rates decrease the longer a patient remains in a facility. Thus, nursing homes are incentivized to make room for new Medicare patients, even if it means discharging existing patients without regard to their health and safety.
Last February, Feuer announced the settlement with Lakeview Terrace to resolve allegations involving the dumping of homeless and mentally impaired patients from the facility as well as quality of care issues. As part of this agreement, memorialized in a court order, Lakeview Terrace was required to hire a court-appointed Independent Monitor to oversee the facility’s operations for two years.
The new complaint alleges that Lakeview Terrace has not protected its patients as required by this settlement or in compliance with relevant law, and has failed to report allegations of resident abuse and neglect within its facility to the Independent Monitor or Los Angeles Ombudsman’s Office, preventing meaningful oversight.
The complaint alleges that some new residents are forced to spend their first night in the facility’s common areas because Lakeview Terrace sometimes accepts more patients than it has beds for. Even more disturbing, the lawsuit alleges that, in the last year, Lakeview Terrace failed to administer hundreds of doses of crucial medications to seriously ill patients, including to one patient who was denied 414 of 654 prescribed doses of HIV medicine and to another, who, while experiencing respiratory problems amid the COVID-19 pandemic, was denied 176 doses of medication by inhaler.
The City Attorney’s Office alleges that to conceal this abuse and neglect, Lakeview Terrace went so far as to falsify medical records. Staff allegedly signed hundreds of records falsely indicating that they had administered medication to patients when they had not, misleading regulators, the Monitor and the physicians responsible for the patients’ care.
The complaint also alleges that in the last six months alone, the California Department of Public Health found 32 violations of state and federal regulations at Lakeview Terrace and declared two "Immediate Jeopardies" at the facility, a status indicating that the agency found Lakeview Terrace’s violations would cause or were likely to cause serious injury, harm, impairment or death.
Feuer’s current lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction barring all Lakeview Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility staff from engaging in the acts and practices alleged in this complaint, the appointment of a Special Master to oversee operations at Lakeview Terrace moving forward and civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation of the 2019 injunction.
Deputy Chief Will Rivera, Supervising Deputy City Attorney Christina Tusan, and Deputy City Attorneys Gina Lee, Will Pletcher, Alex Bergjans, Miguel Ruiz and Rebecca Morse are handling the litigation of this matter.
City Attorney Feuer has made ending patient dumping a priority, settling eight cases and securing more than $4.45 million from skilled nursing facilities and hospitals alleged to have engaged in it. Feuer also has a more than 30-year history of protecting nursing home patients. When he led Bet Tzedek Legal Services, its Nursing Home Advocacy Project was a national leader on patient issues. As a member of the California Assembly, Feuer jointly authored the law requiring nursing homes to conspicuously post their quality of care ratings, and led the effort to preserve the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which reviews and investigates allegations of patient abuse and neglect.
To learn more about the care of loved ones in nursing homes, the Los Angeles Ombudsman advocacy program and for information about loved ones in nursing homes during COVID-19, visit WISE & Healthy Aging.