scales of justice and law books

The owners of a California assisted living facility are facing a lawsuit from the family of an 87-year-old deceased former resident, alleging elder abuse, negligence and wrongful death.

The lawsuit, filed June 10 in the Superior Court of California, Riverside County, alleges that Sunbrook Residential Care in La Quinta, and its owners — Ramona and Ronald Sykes — engaged in elder abuse, neglect, intentional misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, wrongful death and negligent hiring, supervision and retention, among other complaints.

The lawsuit was brought by the children of Ronald Clarke, who was murdered and placed in a trash can outside the home. His caregiver, Cristina Camino, was arrested last fall and charged with torture and murder. A criminal complaint alleges that Camino used a knife, box cutter, screwdriver and hammer in the murder. Camino pleaded not guilty in December. She is eligible for the death penalty.

The Sykes, who operated three Sunbrook facilities in the area, had licenses revoked at all three facilities earlier this year. Those facilities now are closed, and a phone number for the La Quinta home is disconnected. The suit charges that Clarke was improperly admitted to Sunbrook, a single-family house within a gated residential development, “merely for profits” and was “simply abandoned.”

Clarke’s condition made him dependent on the facility for medical care and health services, and assistance with daily personal activities, according to the family. The lawsuit also accuses the owners of underfunding and understaffing the facility.

Published reports from the Palm Springs Desert Sun quoted Ramona Sykes as saying “our insurance company was handling the lawsuit.” The reports also detailed several evaluation and complaint investigation reports going back to 2015.