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A residential care facility for the elderly that closed this past summer is being sued by an 85-year-old Napa woman who claims the former Browns Valley facility neglected her needs.

Atha Jo Mallare’s attorney filed the lawsuit against A Hidden Knoll’s administrator Divina Samson in Napa County Superior Court recently, alleging elder abuse and neglect. Neither Samson nor anyone at the six-bed facility, which opened in 1995 and closed Aug. 4, could be reached for a comment.

Less than two months prior to closing, the facility at 3158 Browns Valley Road was cited for using restraints on a resident in such a way that the resident could not remove them, according to reports provided by the California Department of Social Services. Samson admitted to using restraints on a resident “so she could sleep” and “not worry” about the resident taking off their undergarments, according to the investigation report.

According to the lawsuit, during Mallare’s stay at the facility, her family found her with her hands tightly bound with a piece of plastic and a bedsheet twisted around her wrists, according to Garcia, Artigliere & Medby, the Long Beach law firm representing Mallare. Her hands were swollen and purple, they said, and she smelled of urine.

After being admitted into A Hidden Knoll in August 2016, Mallare, who was mostly independent despite her dementia, had lost more than 30 pounds and wasn’t able to eat on her own, walk, or hold a conversation with family, according to the suit. She had developed pressure sores, had old feces and bruising on her body and, the suit asserts, her dementia had worsened.

By May 2017, Mallare was put on hospice care.

The facility advertised that it was able to provide care for a resident with dementia, but it wasn’t, alleges the suit. The facility should have never admitted Mallare and, when she was showing signs of deterioration, her family should have been notified but wasn’t, according to the lawsuit.

A Hidden Knoll took Mallare on as a resident even though staff at the facility had not been properly trained to care for someone with dementia, the suit alleges. According to the suit, the facility was also understaffed.

Since leaving the facility and moving into a care home in American Canyon, Mallare seems much better, say representatives with the law firm. Hours after being admitted into a new facility, Mallare’s coloring improved, she was alert, clean and talking again, the firm said. She remains on hospice care.

On its closing date, resident rooms at A Hidden Knoll were cleaned of personal belongings and the facility was occupied only by Samson and her husband, according to the California Department of Social Services.

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Prior to the complaint in June, the facility received three citations Oct. 11, 2016, but was found to be operating without deficiencies by Oct. 28, 2016.

The property is currently pending license approval to operate as a residential care facility for the elderly under the name of “Viewmont Villa,” according to the California Department of Social Services. The licensee is listed as Denise O’Reilly out of Calabasas.

O’Reilly was not immediately available for a comment Tuesday.

The next court date on the matter is scheduled for Oct. 17.

The street address of A Hidden Knoll has been corrected since first posting.


Public Safety Reporter

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She covers breaking news as well as crime and courts. Maria came to the Napa Valley Register in 2015 after working as a reporter and photographer at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC.