Quick Take:

Brookdale operates a senior housing campus in Scotts Valley that isn’t part of the lawsuit, which singles out 10 Brookdale skilled nursing facilities. But District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell says it’s important to be part of the case anyway. Brookdale denies the allegations.

The Santa Cruz County district attorney is joining forces with the California attorney general and several other law enforcement officers in suing Brookdale Senior Living Inc., the nation’s largest senior living operator, accusing the company of ignoring patient safety laws at a handful of facilities around the state.

The lawsuit pertains to Brookdale’s current and former California skilled nursing facilities in Bakersfield, Camarillo, Carlsbad, Northridge, Rancho Mirage, San Diego, San Dimas, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Rosa and Yorba Linda.

Brookdale’s lone facility in Santa Cruz County is an independent living and assisted living community in Scotts Valley that is not named in the lawsuit and isn’t connected to any wrongdoing. But district attorney Jeffrey Rosell is joining in the complaint as part of the county’s efforts to hold all “skilled nursing facilities and their owners accountable.”

“Protecting the elderly and disabled is one of the highest priorities for the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office,” Rosell said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. “This action will ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community are protected.”

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Brookdale says the allegations against it are completely unfounded.

“We categorically deny that Brookdale engaged in intentional or fraudulent conduct,” a company spokesperson said. “Publicizing unproven allegations is reckless and undermines the public’s confidence in a service necessary to the care of elderly individuals, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Brookdale is dedicated to providing quality care to our residents and patients, and we take our mission of enriching the lives of those we serve seriously.”

The lawsuit alleges that Brookdale failed to properly notify nursing home patients and families of transfers and discharges by failing to timely provide required notices to patients. Brookdale also allegedly failed to properly prepare its patients for transfer or discharge.

Besides that patient safety issue, the lawsuit alleges that Brookdale gave false information to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid regarding “star ratings.” By lying to CMS, Brookdale fraudulently increased its star rating in several categories to attract prospective patients and their families, the lawsuit alleges.

“We are holding Brookdale accountable for artificially increasing its profits by cutting corners when transferring or discharging its patients. It lured individuals to its facilities through false promises about providing the highest quality care,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.

Besides Becerra and Rossell, others joining in the case are the district attorneys of Kern, Alameda and San Diego counties, as well as the Los Angeles city attorney. A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

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Jessica M. Pasko has been writing professionally for almost two decades.She cut her teeth in journalism as a reporter for the Associated Press in her native Albany, NY, where she covered everything from...