Sample Verdicts & Lawsuits Against Brius Healthcare Nursing Home

Brius Healthcare is the largest nursing home operator in the State of California. It operates approximately 80 nursing homes in the state. In some markets, it has a near-monopoly on nursing home beds. It was founded by Shlomo Rechnitz and expanded greatly in the earlier part of this decade. Lawsuits against Brius for either deficient care or understaffing have been filed in recent years.

Brius has been in the news frequently in recent years. It has established a reputation of being one of the worst nursing home chains in the country, based on the number of health deficiencies found in federal inspections. A 2014 story in the Sacramento Bee brought many of these care deficiencies to light and resulted in renewed regulatory pressure on the chain. The news article detailed in a multi-part series some of the stories of the suffering that residents in Brius homes endured. The article also described how three of Brius’ homes were decertified by the State of California. The state had decertified only six of its more than 1200 nursing homes, and half of these were owned by Brius. According to the Sacramento Bee, Brius controls one out of every 14 nursing home beds in the entire state.

The company is legendary for being secretive about nearly everything related to its organization. The nursing homes are owned through various shell companies and there are many related party transactions between all of the entities. It is not uncommon for Brius to pay both rent and management fees for its nursing homes to other companies that are all owned by Rechnitz. While Brius claims that it is losing money, the income of these facilities reflect large payment made to other Rechnitz-controlled entities for management services. Brius’ founder had been in the news because he had purchased each of his employees a Powerball ticket and one falsely claimed that they had won. At the time, Rechnitz joked in a radio interview that the $1.5 billion prize was half a year’s income for him.

There have been numerous media reports of resident deaths at facilities owned by Brius. In addition, there have also been reports that Brius has accepted a large number of mentally ill patients to its facilities because those patients result in a higher reimbursement rate from Medicare and Medicaid. One of these residents committed suicide by pulling the pin on a fire extinguisher and discharging the contents down his throat. This resulted in the indictment of both the skilled nursing facility where he resided and the home’s administrator.

Brius has been barred by California from obtaining new licenses to operate nursing homes due to its troubled compliance history. However, it has been allowed to operate these homes on interim licenses. Brius has taken over other facilities in bankruptcy court over the objections of the state. However, Brius continues to operate these facilities, even without a permanent license.

The facility controls most of the beds in Humboldt County. Brius has threatened to close its nursing homes there because it claimed to have not been profitable. Brius has been trying to get a higher rate of reimbursement for these facilities. The chain has a checked track record in the county with five wrongful death lawsuits against Brius filed in a 15-month period.

Lawsuits Against Brius

The chain has faced a growing number of lawsuits in recent years. Some of these have been from private individuals alleging wrongful death. Others have been brought either by the government or whistleblowers alleging some sort of misconduct. Brius has a complicated corporate structure in order to shield itself from legal liability to the maximum extent possible.

The lawsuits against Brius are in the following categories:

  • Pressure Ulcers
  • Patient Dumping
  • Infections
  • Understaffing the facilities
Lawsuits Against for Pressure Ulcers

2010 – Settlement ($1,000,000) – An 89-year old resident was admitted to one of Brius’ homes after falling at home. The resident was treated with an indwelling Foley catheter. The man developed a pressure ulcer on his heel, which was diagnosed and treated. Notwithstanding the treatment, the wound grew worse. However, the staff did not seek any escalation of treatment from the physician. Even though the wound was considered unstageable, it was still treated as a Stage II pressure ulcer. By that point, the wound had turned gangrenous. Although a podiatric consult was ordered, it took four days for the podiatrist to come to the facility. Three days after that, the resident was hospitalized. At the time of the hospitalization, it was noted that the resident’s penis was eroded at the site of the catheter and the gland was basically split in two. One week later, the resident died from multiple infections. The plaintiffs alleged that the resident received substandard care and that the facility was chronically understaffed to the point where it could not provide adequate care for its residents.

2016 – Lawsuits Filed – The families of two separate residents living in Brius facilities in Humboldt County filed suits against Brius eight months apart. Each of the residents died from pressure ulcers that rapidly grew worse. The lawsuits allege that the facilities did not take the proper measures to diagnose and treat the pressure ulcers. One lawsuit claimed that the resident’s pressure ulcer was so bad that one could put their fist in it. This pressure ulcer degenerated and worsened over a period of three months. The other lawsuit claimed that the deceased resident was never bathed while at the home and that a nurse did not document the resident’s pressure ulcer. Both lawsuits allege that the proper diagnosis and treatment would have prevented these pressure ulcers from growing worse.

Lawsuit Against Brius for Patient Dumping

2017 – Settlement – Brius had been hit with several wrongful death lawsuits in Humboldt County, a place where it has a questionable track record. The resident was a 65-year old blind man who was residing at a Brius facility for two and a half years. The resident had multiple medical and psychiatric issues including bi-polar disorder and anxiety. While at the nursing home, the resident lacked the ability to give himself his medications. After 30 months at the facility, he was told that could no longer live there. The resident was taken to a hotel and dropped off there without any of his medications. He was given macaroni and cheese and a half gallon of milk and left to fend for himself. Three days later he was found unresponsive and he died the following days. The suit was filed on behalf of the resident’s sister and terms were confidential.

Lawsuit Against Brius for Infections

2017 – Lawsuit Filed – An 85-year old woman died after surgery to remove a fecal buildup so large that it was as large as a uterus in late-term pregnancy. Her family sued Brius for wrongful death. By the time that she finally had surgery to remove the fecal impaction, surgeons removed nearly four liters of feces and even more had spilled into her abdominal cavity. Even though the resident had been prescribed laxitives, the lawsuit alleged that these had not been given to the resident in the two months prior to her death. The lawsuit alleged that Brius was not sufficiently staffing the facility. Brius routinely claims that it lacks the money to do so, notwithstanding the fact that its facilities are making large payments to other Brius controlled entities.

Lawsuit Against Brius for Inadequate Staffing

2017 – Lawsuit Filed – There is a large class action lawsuit pending against 55 Brius nursing homes. The suit claims that the chain does not adequately staff its nursing homes, resulting in a substandard level of care at the facility. The plaintiffs allege that they were misled by Brius during their application process to the homes. They allege that Brius took steps to cover-up its long history of regulatory violations and assured the applicants that the homes were adequately staffed. This is one of a number of class action lawsuits against Brius for similar facts. Brius is accused of keeping staffing levels dangerously low to inflate profits.

Lawsuit Against Brius for Kickbacks

2017 – Settlement ($6.9 million) with the federal government – There was a whistleblower lawsuit that claimed that Brius paid kickbacks to receive more Medicare patients. Brius wanted these patients due to a higher rate of reimbursement. The lawsuit also claimed that Brius filed false claims for Medicare reimbursement. The chain entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement that conceded that the chain’s employees did commit these acts, but it was without the knowledge of Brius.

Concerned About a Loved One at a Brius Nursing Home?

A lawsuit against Brius required skilled counsel with experience in going after nursing homes of its ilk. This is in part due to the corporate veil surrounding Brius that needs to be pierced in order for the company to be held liable for its actions. The attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center have years of experience in suits of this type. Call them today at (800) 726-8565 to find out how they can put their experience to work for you. Our attorneys have seen and dealt with all of the issues described above.

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