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Lawsuit blames Bob Dean, LDH for botched nursing home evacuation during Hurricane Ida

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:25 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Attorney Ron Haley and the legal team at Unglesby Law Firm are dropping the hammer after their client, Darlene Franklin, was left in filth at a warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish during Hurricane Ida.

During a news conference, Haley shared concerns over the nursing home owner Bob Dean, Jr. and the state’s handling of the situation that left his client and hundreds of others exposed to horrifying conditions.

“She suffered a great deal from this as everyone that was there did,” said Haley.

The seven nursing homes involved have been shut down and the man behind them is being investigated. The lawsuit filed last week also blames the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), holding them equally responsible for what happened.

THE INVESTIGATORS: State yanks licenses of nursing homes under investigation for questionable evacuations

“Because they approved the plan. Bob Dean submitted this plan to dump over 800 into a warehouse during a hurricane and they said, ‘you know what? That’s okay. We’re going to approve that.’,” said Haley. “So yes they’re responsible for that but they’re also responsible because this is not the first rodeo with Mr. Dean.”

WATCH THE FULL NEWS CONFERENCE IN THE VIDEO BELOW

Back in 2017, The 9News Investigators uncovered problems at the Plaquemine Manor nursing home, which is also owned by Dean. One woman turned to WAFB when she says her mother was being neglected at the facility.

“I had found her uncovered,” the woman said. “I had found her with little clothing on and I had found what I assumed was urine all over the floor.”

Documents obtained by WAFB at the time showed state inspectors had found evidence of flies on residents heads, insects in the washroom and records that show medications were not given on time. When the state visited the home back in 2016, a resident testified that a certified nursing assistant told another resident to get her “p**** a**” up and then pushed her. According to state records, a review of the matter revealed those allegations of abuse were true.

“And yet the state did not act at that time and take his license away at that time so we’re under the opinion that this person should not have had the opportunity to have a license at this time. He shouldn’t have been allowed to,” said Haley.

THE INVESTIGATORS: 7 dead as nursing home residents evacuated to warehouse during Ida

Haley says his client used to work for Dean as a nurse before retiring in 2016, but just like more than 800 others, his team claims she was left to sit in her own waste for hours at a time. According to inspections conducted by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the warehouse was deficient in several areas. Those reports show the facility was not fit to take on hundreds of the most vulnerable members of the community.

“Right now, they are kind of in a reactionary standpoint,” Haley added. “They are reacting to the problem but they should have taken proactive measures. They should have proactively made sure that the elderly were taken care of.”

The 9News Investigators reached out to LDH on August 30th after receiving a tip about the poor conditions at the warehouse. The state responded to the request days later and documents now show the day WAFB started asking questions was the same day inspectors from LDH went out to the facility and were kicked off the property. At a news conference last week, WAFB pushed for answers to see how long it took the state to get back out there after they left.

VIDEO: Nursing home residents describe deplorable conditions at facility in Tangipahoa Parish

WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked Stephen Russo, director of the Legal, Audit and Regulatory Affairs with LDH how long it took inspectors to go back once they were kicked off the property.

“We went back.. it was reported back to state office and then a team was basically spooled up and sent back out the very next day because we knew at that stage we needed to get in there and commence rescue efforts,” said Russo.

”It absolutely was a mistake for the state to leave,” Haley added. “Listen, the license is given through the state of Louisiana so how are you going to tell the person that’s basically supervising you to get the hell off your property? They state should never have been there to begin with because guess why? These folks should never have been brought to a warehouse to begin with at all.”

WAFB reached out to LDH for a comment and provided a copy of the lawsuit. A representative with the agency said they had not been made aware of the lawsuit and had not yet been served.

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