Fresno County nursing home neglected elderly woman, lawsuit claims

An elderly Fresno woman was denied assistance in using the restroom by employees of a nursing home located south of Easton, resulting in injuries that ultimately led to her death, a Long Beach attorney alleges in a lawsuit.

According to the 20-page complaint filed June 14 by Stephen Garcia in Fresno County Superior Court, Rosario Navarro in February was taken to the bathroom, placed on the toilet and left unattended by staff at Manning Gardens Care Center, near Manning and Cedar avenues. After using the restroom and waiting for “an unreasonably long period of time,” Navarro attempted to use her call device to summon staff.

Convinced that no one was coming back, the complaint continued, Navarro got up on her own. In the process, she fell forward, hit her head and fell on the floor, using her hands to break her fall and fracturing both of her wrists.

I see these types of cases every once in awhile but not to point where there’s such a lack of compassion.

Bill Artigliere, an attorney for the family of Rosario Navarro

“Unfortunately with elderly folks, when they’re weak and they don’t remember that they can’t walk by themselves, things happen,” said Bill Artigliere, one of the attorneys for Navarro’s family. “Facilities such as these are required to put safeguards to make sure these things don’t happen.”

Artigliere said what likely happened is that the staff member got busy with helping someone else. “That’s pretty indicative of understaffing,” he said.

Understaffing to save on operating expenses is a common occurrence in the nursing home industry, Artigliere said.

Lawyers for Navarro’s family said that even after Navarro was injured, a Manning Gardens employee scolded Navarro for getting up on her own and then struck her in the head with a showerhead for crying.

Rather than inform her relatives of the injury, staff members put Navarro to bed, Artigliere said.

“It’s not every day that you see that someone has a fall, is crying in pain and they are just putting them to bed,” he said. “I see these types of cases every once in awhile, but not to the point where there’s such a lack of compassion. And the person is scolding them instead of saying, ‘Oh, my God, I’m sorry.’ 

Navarro eventually was taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno and had an X-ray. She was discovered to have brain trauma as a result of hitting her head. She died of her injuries on March 18, Artigliere said. She was 74.

“The hospital was the one that called the family to tell them she was transferred there,” Artigliere said. “Why didn’t the facility call? They had an obligation to call and let them know, and they didn’t do that. So it’s pretty egregious.”

The law firm of Garcia, Artigliere & Medby of Long Beach filed a lawsuit against Manning Gardens for elder abuse, negligence, assault and battery, and wrongful death. The firm specializes in elder-abuse cases.

These are the improprieties we are talking about – putting profits over people.

Bill Artigliere, an attorney for the family of Rosario Navarro

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Manning Gardens administrator Ron Kinnersley said he was aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment.

The lawsuit alleges the nursing home withheld care and services from residents in the interest of financial gain and profit. The suit also alleges financial impropriety for the purpose of draining the facility of funds by paying for “phantom services,” pointing to an alleged $201,000 payment in 2014 to Care Chateau LLC for rent.

Care Chateau is owned by Kinnersley, lawyers for the Navarro family said. The suit said the $201,000 payment was confirmed under penalty of perjury in a submission to the California Office of Statewide Planning and Development, as was another debt of $55,000 owed to Kinnersley.

“It appears there was some self-dealing going on,” Artigliere said. “What you have is the owner paying himself more money instead of going to get more staff to care for these folks. These are the improprieties we are talking about – putting profits over people.”

Razi Syed: 559-441-6679, @razisyed