Suit says residential care facility to blame for man losing an eye. Critic calls it a ‘shakedown.’

Bella Vista Memory Care Community nursing home is near Herndon and Polk avenues in northwest Fresno.
Bella Vista Memory Care Community nursing home is near Herndon and Polk avenues in northwest Fresno. Bella Vista Memory Care Community

A former resident of Bella Vista Memory Care Community in northwest Fresno contends in a civil lawsuit that he had to have his right eye removed after staff at the nursing home allowed him to be attacked twice by his roommate.

Josh Dansby Jr. is seeking unspecified damages in Fresno County Superior Court for elder abuse, negligent hiring and supervision and assault and battery.

But Fresno attorney Ian B. Wieland, who represents Sierra Meadows Senior Living, LLC, which runs Bella Vista, said the allegations are false and that Bella Vista “provides nothing short of stellar care and is a local leader in the industry.”

Wieland also said the lawsuit filed by Dansby’s lawyer, attorney Stephen M. Garcia of Long Beach, “was simply another ‘shakedown’ type lawsuit that has plagued many other local businesses in our Valley.” He criticized Garcia for posting “false advertisements” about the Dansby lawsuit on social media in order to get more clients to sue.

“Bella Vista maintains that such out-of-court advertisements being made about a pending case are improper and do not follow strict attorney advertisement guidelines, Wieland said, adding that his firm (Sagaser, Watkins & Wieland PC) sent Dansby’s attorneys a cease-and-desist letter requesting that the law firm immediately take down the social media posts and refrain from running “improper ads regarding Bella Vista and this case.”

Garcia did not return repeated attempts to reach his office to get comment.

Bella Vista Memory Care Community, near Herndon and Polk avenues, specializes in the care of Alzheimer’s and dementia residents.

The lawsuit says Bella Vista is understaffed and has a history of being issued deficiencies by the California Department of Social Services.

The lawsuit only gives Garcia’s and Dansby’s account of the incident:

Dansby suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia and has a history of strokes and heart attacks. He also has had cornea transplants in both eyes and a pacemaker.

Around February 2017 he became a resident of the nursing home. Garcia says in the lawsuit that Bella Vista focused on its bottom line at the expense of the care it promised to provide to Dansby. In doing so, Bella Vista placed Dansby with a roommate who had a known history of aggressive propensities and physical assault, the lawsuit says.

In September, the roommate attacked Dansby. After this assault, Dansby’s family complained to the Bella Vista staff, asking that Dansby be protected from the roommate. But the Bella Vista staff falsely told the family that there was no alternative way to protect Dansby, the lawsuit says.

Dansby remained with his roommate and was attacked again in December. After the attack, Bella Vista staff did not provide Dansby with care for days, the lawsuit says. He was later taken to Saint Agnes Medical Center’s emergency room, where he was determined to have suffered a corneal detachment. Doctors removed Dansby’s right eye.

Garcia says in the lawsuit that the nursing home broke the law when it allowed Dansby’s attacker to remain in the nursing home after the first attack.

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts