Lemaire v. Covenant Care Cal., LLCAnnotate this Case
Clausen suffered a stroke and was admitted to Covenant's skilled nursing facility. After she died, her daughter sued Covenant for wrongful death, elder abuse, and violation of "patients' rights" under Health & Saf. Code 1430(b), alleging: Covenant was "chronically understaffed," her mother did not receive "appropriate care because there was not enough staff," and her mother died as "a result of . . . elder abuse, neglect and willful misconduct." The patients' rights cause of action alleged that Covenant violated her mother's right "to have nurses' notes be clear and legible, dated and signed . . . including narratives [on] how a patient responds, eats, drinks, looks, feels, and reacts." (Cal. Code, 22, 72547(a)(5).) The jury found for the plaintiff on the heath care records issues and awarded $270,000 as statutory damages (1430(b)) and $841,842 in attorney fees, with $26,327.45 in costs. The court of appeal reversed in part, holding that: patients may sue nursing facilities under section 1430(b) for violation of federal and state regulations requiring complete and accurate health care records, but statutory damages under 1430(b) may not exceed $500 per action, and the award of attorney fees and costs must be redetermined on remand.