"Company that owns Fontana,
Riverside nursing homes agrees to settlement"
10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, August 20, 2008
By LORA HINES
A company that owns 17 nursing homes, including three Inland facilities, recently agreed to pay $2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed against it earlier this year.
Residents who lived in a nursing home owned by Brea–based Sun Mar Healthcare Inc. between Jan. 1, 2005, and Jan. 1, 2008, will split the settlement, according to Long Beach attorney Stephen Garcia.
Garcia filed the lawsuit Jan. 8 in Orange County Superior Court on behalf of Warren Richardson, a former resident of Anaheim Healthcare Center, which Sun Mar Healthcare owns.
Sun Mar also owns Citrus Nursing Center and Laurel Convalescent Center, both in Fontana, and Extended Care Hospital of Riverside.
"The purpose of a class–action suit is to make positive change," Garcia said in a written statement. "We appreciate that Sun Mar is stepping up to the plate and taking action to ensure compliance (of regulations)."
Sun Mar President Irving Bauman couldn't be reached Wednesday.
In his lawsuit, Garcia claimed Sun Mar owners defrauded residents and violated state health and safety codes.
The lawsuit states that Sun Mar officials promised residents a level of care that they knew they couldn't provide.
Michael Connors, spokesman for the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said no one prevents nursing home administrators from admitting more patients than they can adequately serve.
"The state of California should not be allowing nursing homes to admit people when they don't have enough staff to care for current residents," Connors said. "This practice is a type of fraud."
Garcia, in his lawsuit, included inspection and investigation records from the California Department of Public Health to show the number of times Sun Mar's nursing homes had violated heath and safety regulations.
Public Health Department records indicate inspectors found Extended Care Hospital of Riverside in violation of 77 health and safety regulations between 2004 and 2008.
Citrus Nursing Center was fined nearly $136,000 for violations between 2004 and 2007.
Laurel Convalescent Center was fined $1,000 for a violation in 2004.