Misrepresentation by RCFE Leads to Broken Hip: Case Results in $1,000,000.00 Settlement

Posted on March 10, 2009 by bermanstaff

A VALUABLE LESSON REGARDING ELDER ABUSE AND NEGLECT - Michele, the daughter of 76-year-old Irene, diligently researched several local care facilities when her mother’s health declined to a point where she needed living assistance. In an effort to find the right place, Michele looked into several different care facilities, taking tours of the facilities and meeting with their directors and staff. When she found a place that looked nice, a facility that stated it could meet all of her mother’s needs, she even agreed to pay additional fees for her mother to receive top level "enhanced services" to ensure that her mother would be properly cared for in her elder years. After such extensive research, how then is it possible that Irene was neglected to the point of suffering at least six falls, a severely broken hip, and several decubitus ulcers while residing at the facility?

This is what Michele asked the director and staff of a Southern California Residential Care Facility for the Elderly ("RCFE") when her mother was severely neglected after top level administration had assured her that her mother would receive "great enhanced care" by its "team of nurses" who provided "24-hour care." Unbeknownst to Michele, the facility did not even employ the services of licensed nurses at its RCFE.

Key administration of the Southern California RCFE falsely led Michele to believe that the facility would provide her mother the best possible care money could buy. Unfortunately, this false sense of security lead Michele to place her trust in the facility’s administration and staff.

During a pre-admission tour of the facility, the Executive Director assured Michelle that the facility could meet her mother’s needs because they had a "great team of nurses" who would provide "great enhanced care" to residents with special needs, such as Irene. Because the facility appeared professional and reputable, Michele authorized the facility to assess her mother’s needs in order to determine whether they could be met appropriately.

During the assessment, the RCFE specifically learned of all the ailments affecting Irene, including her total blindness, her need to be fed through a G-tube, and her potential as a high fall risk resident. After learning these needs, the facility’s administration informed Michele that her mother was appropriate for placement and residency at the facility. Two days after the evaluation and following several persuading discussions with the facility’s Executive Director and Director of Resident Services, Michele admitted her mother into the RCFE.

Irene was not only totally dependent on the facility’s staff for daily activities, but she was also completely dependent on staff for her health, safety, and well-being, a fact that the administrative staff assured Michele they were capable of satisfying, given their in-depth evaluation of Irene before admission. Based upon their own assessment, Irene was deemed to require the top level of care and Michele agreed to pay significant additional fees for the facility’s "enhanced services."

Despite the fact that the facility had identified Irene as being at high risk for falling, just days after her admission to the facility she fell from her bed. In all, during the six months she resided at the facility, Irene fell at least six times. In a direct effort to cover up their neglect, the facility failed to give notice to Michele or Irene’s primary care physician each and every time she fell. The facility also failed to take appropriate measures to devise and implement a care plan to prevent further fall incidents from occurring. On the sixth fall, she severely broke her hip, a fracture that required reparative surgery.

After undergoing emergency surgery to repair her broken hip – which Michele believed was the result of an isolated fall incident – the Executive Director of the facility assured Michele that Irene would be well-cared for upon her return to the facility, and Michele believed that her mother was indeed receiving the best possible care money could buy. Unbeknownst to her, Irene was not even receiving proper "basic care." Unaware that this was a pattern of problems within the facility, Michele returned her mother to the facility.

After Irene’s return to the facility, the under-staffing situation continued to degrade to the point that she was even further neglected, being left in her bed for unknown amounts of time without being moved or re-positioned. As a result, she suffered numerous decubitus ulcers (bed sores), all of which caused severe pain and required specialized medical care. However, the staff did not follow Irene’s physicians’ instructions in caring for the ulcers, causing them to worsen and they ultimately progressed to Stage III classification. It was at this point that Michele removed her mother from the facility, thereafter retaining legal counsel.

During litigation, it was uncovered that the facility’s lack of care for Irene was not an isolated event, but rather the inevitable result of defendants’ fraudulent misrepresentations and conscious disregard for the health, safety, and welfare of its residents. The problem was systemic in that the facility was not only understaffed, but the minimal staff that was on duty was entirely untrained and unqualified to provide proper wound care. In addition, the acting ownership and administration failed to properly train its staff to ensure compliance with Title XXII of the California Code of Regulations in a direct effort to minimize expenses and increase profits. As such, the care and attention rendered to the residents of the facility was secondary to the overall goal of defendants to maximize their profits. Despite express representations that had been made by the facility, the RCFE failed to provide Irene the promised level of care she not only needed, but more importantly paid to receive.

Over the period of nine months, attorney William M. Berman aggressively litigated Irene’s case against the Southern California based RCFE and its managing agents. After uncovering many acts of wrongdoing, Mr. Berman, on behalf of his clients, was successful in obtaining a settlement for the full limits of the defendants’ insurance policy in the amount of $1,000,000.00.

While Irene eventually made a full recovery, an important lesson can be learned from the wrongful acts that were committed against Irene and Michelle. The lesson: Regardless of how attractive a facility may look, it is extremely important to ask the right questions of a facility in which you intend to place a loved one at, and just as important to monitor the actions of the facility staff in which you place a loved one to ensure that they are providing the proper care and attention that your loved one rightfully deserves.

About Berman & Riedel, LLP firm managing partner attorney William M. Berman:

Attorney William M. Berman focuses his practice in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death and elder abuse and neglect. Strictly a plaintiffs’ dedicated firm, he never represents insurance companies in the defense of claims. Mr. Berman’s firm remains staunchly committed to helping those who have suffered serious injury or loss due the negligence, intentional misconduct or wrongful acts of others. Mr. Berman has grown his firm to what is considered one of the largest and most successful elder abuse/neglect practices within California. Through his continued successes in handling claims involving nursing home and elder abuse and neglect, Mr. Berman remains a prominent figure in advocating on behalf of this vulnerable class of citizens.
View full biography

5 Star Rated Injury Lawyers In California

Bringing our injured clients unparalleled success
Settlement Won
Serious Personal Injury
Settlement Won
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Trial verdict
Automobile Accident
Settlement Won
Elder Neglect
Settlement Won
Elder Neglect
Settlement Won
Elder Neglect


Speak Directly With A Partner Now.

  • NOTE: All Fields Required

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Real Injuries. Real Testimonials

Watch What Our Clients Have To Say

Elder Neglect by Healthcare Corporation
Jean’s mother was a victim of neglect while at a skilled nursing facility, resulting in surgery that she did not survive. Berman was there to listen and provide support that the client needed.
Wrongful Death at a California Nursing Home
Michele’s mother suffered a wrongful death at a California nursing home. William M. Berman and the attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP helped litigate the case with successful results.
Wrongful Death Legal Services
Ginny suffered a family loss, and Berman lawyers handled her legal needs with compassion and reassurance, allowing her to feel safe and at-ease through the entire process.
Serious Injury at Skilled Nursing Facility
Ira’s wife suffered a traumatic brain injury due to negligence at a skilled nursing facility, and our team of attorneys worked hard to ensure that Ira’s wife and his family received the compensation that they rightfully deserved.
See more client testimonials
Blog, Insights & News

In The News

June 15, 2023

Nursing Home Elopement – Dementia Wandering Behavior & Nursing Home Negligence

Elopement is one of many risks to older adults with dementia. Even in the early stages of dementia, wandering behavior can be dangerous as seniors […] Read More
February 15, 2023

Medication Errors in Nursing Homes – A Common and Dangerous Form of Nursing Home Negligence

Most nursing home residents rely on a careful treatment regimen and medication to maintain their health and quality of life. When nursing homes, physicians, nurses, […] Read More
January 15, 2023

Can You Get a Concussion Without Hitting Your Head? – Dispelling Common Concussion Myths

A concussion is a type of brain injury that’s common in all types of accidents, from car accidents to falls. Unfortunately, many concussions are not […] Read More

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions people have about personal injury cases and working with a lawyer. During your initial consultation, we will be happy to answer questions that are particular to your case.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

The attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP, accept cases on a contingency-fee basis. This type of agreement means you do not pay any attorneys’ fees out-of-pocket for legal representation. Attorneys’ fees are also contingent on the outcome of your case.

You benefit from legal representation in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of a settlement or jury award. We will only recover a fee if you recover compensation.

Can You Tell Me How Much My Case Is Worth?

There is no way to determine the exact value of a personal injury case, especially early in your case. However, an experienced attorney can give you an estimated range based on their experience with similar cases.

There are many factors that may influence the value of your case, such as:

  • Your total financial or economic damages
  • The severity of your injuries
  • The impact of your injuries on your daily life
  • The strength of your case
  • Whether you share fault for your accident
  • Insurance policy limits 

Some damages are easy to calculate, such as lost wages and medical bills. Calculating the value of diminished earnings for the rest of your life or future medical needs; however, may require the help of experts. Non-economic damages like pain and suffering have no intrinsic financial value. These damages are challenging to calculate. 

If your case goes before a jury, you may potentially be able to recover more than you could through a settlement. However, this introduces a new element of risk: the jury. The circumstances of your accident and even how sympathetic you or the defendant are can influence the outcome.

During your consultation, and throughout your case, we will help you understand how these factors influence your case. We will also work tirelessly to document the value of all your damages and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

Will My Case Go to Trial?

The vast majority of cases are resolved by reaching a settlement agreement outside of court. Very few personal injury cases actually go to trial, but it is more likely if the facts in your case are in dispute, a legal issue is being contested, or you have a high-value case.

An experienced lawyer will build your case as if it will go to trial from the beginning. The stronger your case and evidence, the more likely a fair settlement will be reached.

How Do I Know If I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If your case involves mostly property damage or minor injuries, you likely do not need a lawyer to handle a claim with the insurance company. The more serious your injuries, or the more complex your case, the more important it becomes to seek experienced legal counsel.

Remember that the insurance company is not on your side, even if the insurance adjuster seems sympathetic and you receive a settlement offer. If you are being blamed for your accident or sustained serious injury, a lawyer will help you protect your rights and build the strongest case possible. This includes calculating the full value of your current and future losses.

Legal representation is also vital if your case involves a complex area of law such as elder abuse or neglect, premises liability, commercial vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, or serious work-related accidents. Determining liability, navigating decades of legal precedence, and interpreting specific statutes in these cases is best done with years of relevant legal experience.

Do You Accept Cases Outside of San Diego?

While our law office is located in San Diego, Berman & Riedel, LLP, accepts cases throughout the state of California.


Speak Directly With A Partner Now.

  • NOTE: All Fields Required

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Call Us
Free Consultation
To Top