Pine Creek Care Center Responds to Verdict in Rios Suit; Defends Care Provided
The Californer/10227784

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Californer -- Last week a jury in Sacramento Superior Court issued a verdict in the case of Rios v. Pine Creek Care Center. The jurors were split on the verdict, with the outcome coming down to one or two of the 12 jurors on the panel. Pine Creek is a skilled nursing facility that employs nurses and therapists who provide compassionate, quality nursing care to elderly and infirm adults in the Sacramento area. The jury returned a verdict totaling more than $30 million against the defendants, which included Pine Creek and its affiliate Plum Healthcare.

The plantiffs claimed the staff at Pine Creek failed to prevent pressure sores on his heels during his brief stay in 2017, before returning home to convalesce after hip surgery. Pine Creek's attorneys presented strong medical evidence that disputed the plaintiff's claims, arguing there was no skin breakdown observed by nursing staff or Mr. Rios' treating physician during his stay. In fact, Mr. Rios was walking and moving around far better upon discharge than when he was admitted.

The limitations put on the defendants' ability to fully defend themselves, coupled with the court granting the plaintiffs' request to instruct the jury that the defendants engaged in a plan to maximize profits at the expense of patient care, which is both false and grossly prejudicial, are denials of the defendant's rights to due process and a fair trial that will be addressed on appeal.

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As evidenced by testimony presented at trial, 87-year-old Mr. Rios was at Pine Creek for 14 days, he both arrived at Pine Creek with redness on his heels went home from Pine Creek with redness on its heels, and left Pine Creek with a considerably better ability to walk than when he arrived from the hospital following hip surgery. The defendants strongly believe that his care at Pine Creek was reasonable, appropriate, and consistent with the doctor's orders.

Pine Creek is one of the premier skilled nursing facilities in the Sacramento area.  At the time of Mr. Rios's stay Pine Creek was a CMS 5-Star facility overall, and it continues to be highly rated. The defendants were not allowed to present that information.

Pine Creek complied with state minimum staffing requirements, and Mr. Rios in fact progressed considerably in his post-surgery healing process while he was at Pine Creek, as evidenced by a significant increase in his ability to walk during his time at the facility. This is all consistent with Pine Creek's continuing focus on providing high-quality care to its residents, and that focus is reflected in its CMS ratings and reputation in the community. Plum Healthcare supported its affiliated facilities in their efforts to care for their residents.

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It's also very difficult to understand how the jury arrived at punitive damages in this case, much less the grossly exaggerated amount they awarded. Pine Creek has been under new ownership since 2021 when Providence Group acquired the operations of Plum Healthcare, which makes the punitive damages awarded all the more incomprehensible since those being "punished" by the award had nothing to do with Pine Creek or Mr. Rios at the time of his 2017 stay. Furthermore, Plum Healthcare's prior private equity shareholder was voluntarily dismissed from the case by the plaintiffs in 2021 and is not subject to the verdict, thus rebutting the public statements made by the plaintiff's attorney that the case "sends a message" to private equity.

Skilled nursing facilities and their dedicated staff members work very hard to care for their residents with love and respect. Verdicts like this undermine the very system that the state has set up to care for elderly and infirm Californians.

The case remains in active litigation with post-trial motions, and a planned appeal.

Source: PACS
Filed Under: Health

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