The Life Care Centers of America nursing home chain has faced numerous controversies in recent years—from Medicare fraud to COVID-19 outbreaks to employee discrimination to allegations of resident neglect and abuse.
Below, we’ll explore the question: Why are lawsuits being filed against Life Care Centers of America?
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- Life Care Centers of America is the largest privately held nursing home chain in the country.
- Life Care Centers agreed to a $145M settlement in 2016 after the government filed a lawsuit against the company alleging fraud. It was the largest settlement of its kind.
- The company’s 200+ nursing care centers have collectively paid millions in fines for violating federal regulations.
- Smaller personal injury lawsuits have been filed by private families in almost every state in which Life Care Centers operates.
What Is Life Care Centers of America?
Life Care Centers of America is an elder care company that owns and operates nursing homes and other facilities in multiple areas across the country.
Here are a few key facts about the United States’ most massive privately held nursing home chain:
- Founded in 1970 by Forrest L. Preston, who is now worth $1.3B
- Headquartered in Cleveland, TN
- Operates over 200 skilled nursing, rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s care, and senior living centers
- Currently has centers operating in 27 states
- Paid $145M in 2016 to settle a lawsuit accusing the company of Medicare fraud
- Known for its Kirkland, Washington facility, which was the site of the U.S.’s first major COVID-19 outbreak in 2020
Life Care Centers of America’s 2016 False Claims Act Lawsuit and Other Legal Troubles
In October 2016, the Life Care Centers of America Inc. corporation and its owner Forrest L. Preston made headlines with an agreement to settle a federal government-filed lawsuit to the tune of $145 million.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Division said: “This resolution is the largest settlement with a skilled nursing facility chain in the department’s history.”
The lawsuit alleged that the company had violated the False Claims Act, a federal law prohibiting the false filing of government claims, or fraud. Specifically, Life Care Centers of America was accused of submitting false claims to Medicare and TRICARE requesting funds for rehabilitation therapy services that were not reasonable or necessary.
It is believed that Life Care Centers used this dishonest scheme for many years between 2006 and 2013 to obtain more funds than were actually required to meet residents’ health care needs. This meant that many individuals may have received therapies they didn’t need, received less care than the facility was paid to provide, or were forced to remain in treatment longer than they needed.
And this newsworthy 2016 fraud settlement wasn’t an isolated incident for Life Care Centers of America.
In 2020, the nursing home chain was once more in the news for its botched handling of the first major COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. at its Life Care Center of Kirkland location—and again a few months later at Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littleton, Massachusetts. Dozens of residents and staff members died in both of these tragic incidents of insufficient infection response.
Lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), inadequate hygiene measures, and failure to implement effective infection control and prevention measures were largely responsible for the poor outcomes at the facilities hit by the coronavirus. And these deficiencies are common complaints against many Life Care Center locations.
Life Care Centers of America has a long, tarnished track record of fines and other legal actions taken by federal agencies like the Department of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Below are a handful of the reasons these facilities have been subjected to such fines.
Fines Imposed Against Life Care Centers of America Facilities
- Life Care Center Of Morehead in Kentucky: A total of $22.8K in fines for deficiencies such as the improper use of feeding tubes and an incident in which a resident was found unconscious after ingesting toilet bowl cleaner left in a public area
- Life Care Center of Kirkland, WA: A $611K fine imposed against the facility for its poor response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which resulted in at least 37 deaths
- Life Care Center of Bridgeton, Missouri: Over $34K in fines charged in 2022 for failing to notify at least three residents’ families and doctors when they developed bedsores
- Life Care Center of Acton, MA: More than $45K in fines for actions such as violating a patient’s right to make their own medical decisions, malnutrition and dehydration of residents, and inadequate infection control measures
- Life Care Center of Osawatomie, KS: Over $120K in fines for fall and accident hazards, poor infection control, violations of resident privacy, medication errors, and more
- Hammond-Whiting Care Center in Indiana: A total of over $22K in fines for failing to properly bathe high-needs residents, violating residents’ personal dignity, and lack of infection-preventing hygiene
Not every facility owned by Life Care Centers of America has been cited for such egregious treatment of residents. However, the list above is only a small sampling of hundreds of violations discovered at this national company’s care centers.
Why Are Families Filing Lawsuits Against Life Care Centers of America?
The federal government has sued Life Care Centers of America. But it isn’t the only party to do so.
While the government has a vested interest in protecting its assets and investments, families often have much more personal and painful reasons for filing lawsuits. Seeing an elderly relative suffer at the hands of professionals paid to ensure their care is one of the most difficult things to endure.
The following is a short synopsis of a few of the legal actions taken against Life Care Centers of America facilities in recent years:
- Florida, 2022: $12.35M verdict after resident Carol Reed developed a bone-deep pressure ulcer as a result of neglect
- Georgia, 2022: $6M verdict for the family of Lucille Debose, who suffered wrongful death resulting from untreated pressure sores
- Washington, 2019: $170K to settle a discrimination lawsuit after denying light duty to a former employee during pregnancy and placing the employee on unpaid leave
- Las Vegas, 2012: More than $4.5M verdict in favor of the estate of Eleanor Wildhaber, who died as a result of alleged abuse, neglect, and battery
- Massachusetts, 2007: Facility charged with criminal manslaughter after wheelchair-bound resident Julia McCauley fell down stairs to her death
Where Are Life Care Centers of America Facilities Located?
The Life Care Centers of America website states that the company operates facilities in 27 states. It has over 220 campuses designated as skilled nursing, rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s care, and senior living centers.
The following states and (number of facilities per state) are listed by the Life Care Centers of America company as of the writing of this blog in July 2023:
- Arizona (10)
- Colorado (22)
- Florida (21)
- Georgia (3)
- Hawaii (4)
- Idaho (8)
- Indiana (15)
- Kansas (7)
- Kentucky (3)
- Massachusetts (15)
- Michigan (3)
- Missouri (10)
- Nebraska (2)
- Nevada (3)
- New Mexico (1)
- North Carolina (2)
- Ohio (4)
- Oregon (3)
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (2)
- South Carolina (3)
- Tennessee (29)
- Texas (8)
- Utah (2)
- Virginia (1)
- Washington (15)
- Wyoming (3)
Does Your Loved One Live in a Life Care Centers of America Facility?
You will generally know your loved one is in a Life Care Centers of America facility if the nursing home has “Life Care Center” in the name. You can also check the company’s website for the names of specific facilities in each state.
Regardless of the ownership of the facility, it’s important to research it thoroughly, visit often, and ask your loved one questions about their life as a resident. Know the phone numbers for elder abuse hotlines, Ombudsman programs, and nursing home abuse law firms in your area.
If you notice anything suspicious, get help immediately.
Thomas Law Offices is comprised of some of the leading elders’ rights attorneys in the country. We have legal teams working diligently on the ground in the state of Kentucky, throughout Missouri, and in Ohio. We have the resources and experience to take on complex cases in Kansas, Indiana, Washington, Tennessee, and other states—as well as national nursing home abuse attorneys who handle major elder abuse lawsuits across the nation.
Our legal consultations and case evaluations are always free. We have also provided information on our website about how to file a Life Care Centers of America lawsuit.
If you need help, contact us to speak with an attorney in your area. We are fully prepared to advocate for you and your family.