$8 Mln Settlement OK in Nursing Home Understaffing

A federal judge approved Kindred Healthcare’s $8.3 million class action settlement Monday of allegations understaffing in at least 21 California skilled nursing facilities.

Over the objection of one class member, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White approved the settlement and injunctive relief worth another $6 million.  The deal will cover nearly 65,000 elderly or disabled current and former residents or their heirs.

Under terms of the settlement, any current or former residents living in the Kindred Health Care Centers between 2006 to 2013 is entitled to $20 for each day during the class period the nursing level fell below the state’s minimum.  The average award is expected to be $167.

In addition to cash awards, the company agreed to increase nursing staff to meet minimum standards and pay up to $100,000 for an independent monitor to guarantee it lives up to the staffing goals.

One class member, Maureen Keating, objected to the deal saying notice to class members was insufficient and misleading and not clear enough to understand.  She also objected to attorney fees as too high and argued the cash settlement was too low.

White rejected her claim saying the settlement “confers substantial benefits upon the settlement class.” He said the value of the injunction is between $6 million and $21 million for current and prospective class members.

The injunctive relief “will create tangible, meaningful improvements in the quality of care for elderly and vulnerable residents of the defendant facilities,” he said.

White also approve $2.5 million in attorney fees, which will be in addition to the $8.3 million award.  He held the 30 percent fee rate was reasonable.  The law firms will also receive $110,000 in costs.

Of the nearly 65,000 class members, just 3,000 people have filed claim forms, which is expected to cost $478,000.  The affected nursing home were in Santa Cruz, Greenbrae, Larkspur, Livermore and YgnaciaoValley.  A complete list is available here.

If the claim rate continues, roughly 13 percent of the class is expected to file claims by the Feb. 22, 2014 deadline.  That is considered an average claim filing rate, according to the court.

A list of the nursing homes is here.

How to file a claim is here.

Case: Walsh v. Kindred Healthcare, No. C11-0050JSW


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