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.

Dan Frith
Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at