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⭒ New Developments

Appeals Court Upholds Class Certification in Sunrise Understaffing Case

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court ruling denying assisted living provider Sunrise Senior Living’s bid to strike expert testimony and class certification of Sunrise residents for violations of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the Unfair Competition Law and for financial elder abuse. The case alleges that Sunrise routinely represented that it hired and assigned staff to provide resident care according to the needs of the residents, but in fact it hired and assigned staff according to a pre-determined budget regardless of residents’ needs. The plaintiffs allege this scheme forced residents to pay for services they did not receive and placed them at risk for not having their needs met.

The 9th Circuit found the lower court did not abuse its discretion when it found the residents “alleged a cognizable economic injury in the form of an overpayment.” The Sunrise residents alleged they had been exposed to substantially similar, material [mis]representations about staffing through their residency agreements, making them a suitable class for a class action lawsuit.