Sun-Mar Heath Care Inc, the operator of 18 skilled nursing homes across Southern California, will pay $2 million to former residents in a settlement stemming from a class-action lawsuit that alleged substandard care of elderly patients. About 4,000 people are part of the class, which covers people who lived in Sun-Mar facilities between January 2005 and January 2008. The attorney representing the plaintiffs estimated that only a fifth or so of those people are still alive.
Virginia law doesn’t provide for class action lawsuits. I think the lack of the ability to file class actions does a disservice to Virginia residents, and the California settlement is a prime example of why. Clearly, Sun-Mar was aware of the substandard care it was providing to its residents….you don’t just pay $2 million to get rid of a “frivolous lawsuit.”
The problem is no lawyer or family would undertake the prosecution of a nursing home abuse case if the recovery was $500. That is correct…these residents and their families each recovered only $500. So, with the availability of a class action, these residents and their families were able to hold a corporate owner responsible without going broke doing it.
I invite your comments about whether you agree about class action lawsuits.