Resident Rights Litigation

Updated Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

Since 1985, CANHR has successfully litigated a number of lawsuits against the Department of Health Services (now two departments: the Department of Public Health and the Department of Health Care Services). These lawsuits have involved resident rights issues such as the right to informed consent prior to the administration of psychotropic drugs, the failure of the Department to respond to complaints on a timely basis and access to ownership information on California nursing homes. CANHR, on behalf of its members, has also been an organizational plaintiff in six lawsuits filed against the Department of Health Services (now Department of Health Care Services) and the Recovery Unit since 1993 to ensure fair and equitable Medi-Cal recovery regulations.

CANHR v. Dooley, No. 3:15-cv-05120. This federal lawsuit filed in 2015 charges that the State Health and Human Services Agency is willfully violating federal laws that protect against dumping nursing home residents into hospitals. For years, California nursing homes have been sending Medi-Cal residents to acute care hospitals and refusing to allow them to return to the nursing homes where they reside, primarily to increase profits and make space for more lucrative Medicare and private pay residents. Federal law forbids this practice by requiring states like California to offer a readmission hearing that provides for the “prompt” readmission of residents. While the State provides a hearing, it is refusing to enforce the hearing decisions, leaving patients with no way to return home. CANHR is represented by Matt Borden of BraunHagey & Borden LLP.
Click here to download complaint (pdf)

CANHR v. Chapman, No. RG13700100. A case filed in Alameda County Superior Court in 2013. Judge Evelio Grillo ruled nursing homes that give mind-altering drugs and withdraw life-sustaining treatment to “unrepresented” residents are violating the state constitution and must stop immediately.  The Court found Health and Safety Code §1418.8, a law allowing nursing homes to make routine medical decisions for residents who lack mental capacity and do not have family or other surrogate decision-makers, facially unconstitutional for its failure to provide residents with any notice they had been determined “incapacitated” or that medical decisions were being considered without their input. The Court also held that the state constitution prohibits nursing homes from drugging residents or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment without more due process than Section 1418.8 provides. The case was brought by Professor Mort Cohen of Golden Gate University Law School.
Click here to download the order (pdf)
Click here to download the decision (pdf)

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform et al. v. California Department of Health Services, No. CPF–05–505749, order for writ of mandate (Cal. Super. Ct., San Francisco County Sept. 27, 2006). CANHR and two individual plaintiffs filed suit against the Department for failing to investigate complaints against California nursing homes as required by law. The Department was ordered to comply with the statutory requirements and to complete investigation of the “backlogged” complaints within a specified period of time. CANHR was represented by Chris Healey, of Luce, Forward in San Diego and Michael Thamer, Esq.
Click here to download the order (pdf)

CANHR v. Shewry, No. CGC04–437210, Stipulation and Settlement Agreement, (Cal. Superior Court, April 28, 2006) CANHR and several members filed suit against the Department of Health Services for failure to comply with the statutory provisions regarding access to ownership information on nursing homes. CANHR recently filed a contempt motion to compel the Department to comply with the settlement agreement. CANHR is represented by the law firm of Amitai Schwartz, Esq., Emeryville, CA.
Click here to download the order (pdf)

BANHR v. DHS: Informed Consent Regulations: A lawsuit brought by CANHR (at that time “BANHR,”) as an organizational plaintiff, and litigated by Mort Cohen, a Professor at Golden Gate University School of Law, resulted in the promulgation of nursing home regulations restricting the use of chemical and physical restraints without first obtaining the informed consent of the resident or the resident’s legal representative. The regulations culminated seven years of efforts by CANHR to reduce the use of chemical and physical restraints in California’s nursing homes.