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Skilled Healthcare Settles Nursing Home Lawsuit After Verdict

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on September 09, 2010 7:12 AM

As discussed in a prior post, Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc. was hit with a $671 million verdict by a California jury who found the company failed to properly staff its 22 nursing homes throughout the state. Now, Skilled Healthcare Group has settled with the class of plaintiffs for $50 million to avoid the largest jury verdict awarded this year. The terms of the settlement are still awaiting the judge's final approval.

During the trial, the jury found the company violated the state health and safety code by failing to meet the requirement of 3.2 hours of direct nursing care to patients per day. According to the San Francisco Chronicle and Bloomberg News, under the settlement, the company will redress that issue by providing specified nurse staffing levels complying with state and federal laws on staffing and providing reports to a monitor. Escrow accounts will be set up for the plaintiffs to provide payments from the funds under the settlement.

The class of plaintiffs was comprised of 32,000 people, including families of residents who died, according to plaintiffs' attorney Tim Needham.

After the verdict was announced, the company said it strongly disagreed with the verdict and would challenge it. The Chronicle reports that Skilled Healthcare then asked the court to rule a mistrial, due to what it claimed was juror misconduct. Judge W. Bruce Watson denied the company's motion, finding the company failed to prove the allegations of juror misconduct.

Skilled Healthcare operates 79 facilities in seven states, including the 22 assisted living facilities in California.

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