A lawsuit accusing Brookdale Senior Living of understaffing and violating the Americans with Disabilities Act will take a step in the class action process by tomorrow, the deadline for attorneys for plaintiffs and the country’s largest senior living provider to file a joint case management statement as ordered by the federal court hearing the case.
“In that statement, we are going to propose the schedule for class certification briefing,” attorney Gay Grunfeld told McKnight’s Senior Living. A case management conference has been scheduled for July 16.
A spokeswomen for Brookdale said the company would not comment on ongoing litigation.
The lawsuit originally was filed in July 2017. Grunfeld previously said that if it is certified as a class action and the plaintiffs win, damages could exceed $45 million. That’s because the lawsuit is seeking a minimum of $9,000 for each affected resident, and more than 5,000 residents of Brookdale communities in California could become part of the class.
The filing of the joint case management statement and the case management conference will be the next steps in the case after the U.S. District Court for Northern California on June 5 denied two motions brought by Brookdale, one of which sought to stay the claims of two plaintiffs while the company appeals a ruling that their claims are not subject to arbitration.
“We were pleased. That was our view, that their [the residents’] claims should go forward in the District Court,” Grunfeld said of the motion denial. “We are now in discovery, which is where you’re taking facts and evidence for each side, so we wanted to keep going with regard to all of our named plaintiffs. And of course we also are seeking class certification, so we want to have robust discovery.”
The judge also denied a motion from Brookdale that sought a so-called interlocutory appeal through which the District Court could have asked the appeals court to consider the question of whether the ADA applies to assisted living earlier than it would otherwise. The District Court previously ruled that the ADA does apply to assisted living. In his June 5 order, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. said Brookdale didn’t meet the legal standard for interlocutory appeal and that the ADA claims could continue.
“We are very pleased with the court’s ruling,” Grunfeld said. “We believe that the ADA does apply to these facilities, and we are moving forward to establish that Brookdale is not complying with the ADA.”