SACRAMENTO—A court in California has ruled in favor of AARP Foundation and BraunHagey & Borden (BHB) client Gloria Single and her son, who sued a national nursing facility chain for illegally transferring her to a hospital and refusing to readmit her, an action referred to as “patient dumping.” In the first California case of its type, AARP Foundation and BHB sued Retirement Housing Foundation and its facility, Cathedral Pioneer Church Homes II (Pioneer House), to stop them from dumping their residents. The Superior Court of California ruled that Pioneer House violated Ms. Single’s rights and the law by refusing to readmit her after she was temporarily hospitalized.
“Each year, nursing facility residents like Gloria Single are illegally evicted from nursing facilities without any place to go. No one should have to endure the trauma that Ms. Single and her family went through. The court’s decision to hold Pioneer House accountable for dumping Ms. Single sends a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated,” said Meryl Grenadier, AARP Foundation Attorney.
AARP Foundation and BHB attorneys sued Pioneer House and five related facilities in California, their parent entity Retirement Housing Foundation, and associated management companies. Pioneer House, in Sacramento, Calif., sent Ms. Single to the hospital for a psychological evaluation and refused to readmit her even when she was cleared by the hospital to return. By law in California, nursing facilities are required to hold a resident’s bed if they are transferred to the hospital, and can only discharge them against their will under limited circumstances. Facilities must provide 30 days’ notice and an opportunity for a hearing before discharging a resident.
Ms. Single’s son represented her in an administrative hearing challenging the illegal discharge, and won, but the facility still refused to take Ms. Single back. As a result, Ms. Single lived in a hospital for several months while her son searched for a new nursing facility. During that time, she lost much of her cognitive and physical abilities, and passed away in 2019. She was never reunited with her husband, who also died while the lawsuit was pending.
“Resident dumping is one of the gravest dangers to nursing home residents, and it results from a combination of greed by the facilities and the State’s refusal to enforce its own hearing orders and laws,” said Mathew Borden of BHB. “We intend to hold chains that engage in this unlawful business practice responsible until the industry changes.”
“Nobody should have to go through what my mom and I suffered,” said Ms. Single’s son Aubrey Jones. “Retirement Housing Foundation claimed that it cared about family, but it refused to obey the law and intentionally prevented my mom from ever seeing her husband again.”
AARP Foundation and BHB are seeking an injunction that would compel the facilities to comply with all provisions protecting against illegal transfers and discharges so that people like Ms. Single do not have to endure what she endured. The case also seeks damages for Ms. Single’s family.
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About AARP Foundation
AARP Foundation works to end senior poverty by helping vulnerable people over 50 build economic opportunity. Our approach emphasizes equitable outcomes for populations that have faced systemic discrimination. As AARP's charitable affiliate, we serve AARP members and nonmembers alike. Through vigorous legal advocacy and evidence-based solutions, and by building supportive community connections, we foster resilience, advance equity and restore hope. To learn more, visit aarpfoundation.org or follow @AARPFoundation on social media.
About BraunHagey & Borden
BHB is a boutique with more than 30 attorneys headquartered in San Francisco that routinely handles high profile, complex litigation and significant pro bono and impact litigation, such as litigation to protect nursing home residents, litigation to protect the rights of the media to cover Black Lives Matter protests, litigation to facilitate the shutdown of coal power plants, and litigation to challenge the ongoing dictatorship in Cambodia.