Aegis Living says it has agreed to the $16.25 million settlement of a lawsuit alleging that staffing decisions were based on budgets rather than resident care needs so that it can focus on “what matters most —  our residents, their families and our team.”

A federal judge on Monday signed off on the settlement, which resolves claims that the Bellevue, WA-based company in Washington state and California made staffing decisions based on budgets rather than resident care needs. Aegis continues to deny any wrongdoing.

“The core of our mission and culture is to provide the highest level of care for our residents. From the beginning, we have fervently disputed the allegations in this case,” Aegis Living General Counsel Elizabeth Chambers told McKnight’s Senior Living on Tuesday. “After several years of aggressively litigating, we made the decision to stop fighting, collaborate with the plaintiff’s attorneys, and put an end to this case so we can continue focusing our full attention on what matters most —  our residents, their families and our team.”

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White approved the deal, according to Law360; it resolves two lawsuits against the senior living company in California federal and Washington state courts.

The two class action suits alleged that Aegis made misleading statements or omitted information about how resident assessment information would inform staffing levels. The lawsuit claimed that Aegis based staffing levels on “predetermined labor budgets, regardless of change in the overall care needs and assessed carepoints of current residents.” The suit argued the practice violated elder abuse and consumer protection laws, and left facilities understaffed and residents’ needs unmet.

The settlement includes $6.35 million in attorney fees and $1.17 million in expense and costs, leaving about $8.4 million for residents, according to Law360. California residents who were part of the suit and lived at one of 15 Aegis Living assisted living communities there between April 12, 2012, and Oct. 30, 2020, will receive approximately $950 each. Washington residents who were part of the suit and lived in one of 18 Aegis Living assisted living communities there between March 8, 2014, and Oct. 30 2020, will receive approximately $1,550 each.

Under the settlement, Aegis Living is required for three years to set staffing levels based on the amount of resources “reasonably required” to perform the care tasks needed by residents, as determined by the company’s assessment procedures.

Similar legal action against other senior living companies also resulted in settlements. The former Emeritus Corp., which merged with Brookdale Senior Living in 2014, settled a class action lawsuit in 2016 for $13.5 million. The suit alleged that Emeritus misled assisted living residents about the use of a computerized system to evaluate residents and determine sufficient staffing and care levels. 

Atria Senior Living settled a similar lawsuit for $6.4 million that same year, and Oakmont Senior Living settled a class action lawsuit for $9 million earlier this year. A similar lawsuit against Sunrise Senior Living is pending.