Law360 (May 22, 2020, 8:33 PM EDT) -- A Southern California nursing home where a 77-year-old man died of COVID-19 in April has been hit with a wrongful death and elder abuse suit alleging it prohibited staff members from wearing masks and gloves, which caused 10 patients to become infected and die.
The family of the deceased patient, Ricardo Saldana, lodged a complaint in state court on Thursday alleging that the Glenhaven Healthcare nursing home in Glendale knowingly concealed the fact that a staff member had been heavily exposed to the novel coronavirus and took "intentional and cruel actions" in responding to the pandemic.
"It failed to provide any protective equipment such as masks to employees, prohibited employees from bringing or wearing their own protective equipment, and went so far as to lock up protective equipment that the local fire department delivered," the complaint states.
Jackie Saldana and other family members said Glenhaven also failed to take proper steps to identify and isolate infected patients and staff members.
"To the contrary, it concealed its knowledge that an employee had been exposed to the virus for roughly two weeks and had the employee interact with other employees and residents," the suit said.
An attorney for the family, Scott Glovsky, said the nursing home allowed the virus to quickly spread among patients, which caused the deaths of 10 patients, including Ricardo Saldana.
"My clients believe that if the facility had handled the outbreak properly and had taken appropriate precautions to protect its residents, their beloved husband and father would still be alive," he said in a statement. "The behavior of Glenhaven was completely unacceptable."
A representative for Glenhaven did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
According to the complaint, throughout the month of March the nursing home's head of staff development, Marco Gary, instructed employees not to wear masks or other protective equipment they had brought from home as they "were not necessary because no one would get sick." Even when one staffer informed Gary that she had an unspecified illness and needed to wear a mask in order to protect patients, Gary said masks were not allowed, the suit said.
Nursing home administrators also hid the fact that a nurse who worked concurrently at another facility where a known COVID-19 outbreak occurred was allowed to continue working at Glenhaven, according to the complaint.
In April, the nursing home implemented a mask-wearing policy for employees but supplies were limited; it also failed to conduct testing of patients and staff until April 7, which revealed positive cases, according to the complaint.
The family alleges that the nursing home's lax policies resulted in an infected patient to be transferred to Ricardo Saldana's room, which caused the previously asymptomatic patient to develop symptoms of coronavirus. He died of the disease on April 13, the suit said.
"Glenhaven sought to avoid scrutiny from local regulators, to save money, and to minimize the knowledge of the existence of the virus to the residents and employees until it was too late," the complaint states. "As a result, the virus ran rampant through Glenhaven's facility, infecting residents and employees."
The family is represented by Scott C. Glovsky and Ari Dybnis of Law Offices of Scott Glovsky APC.
Counsel information for Glenhaven was not immediately available.
The case is Jackie Saldana et al. v. Glenhaven Healthcare LLC et al., case number 20STCV19417, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
--Editing by Bruce Goldman.
For a reprint of this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.