Jacquelene Hodnett, an 87-year-old woman who required a wheelchair, tried to use the toilet alone when she allegedly fell, fractured both legs, and sustained other injuries.
The reported incident could have been avoided, according to a lawsuit filed late last month in Napa County Superior Court, if Aegis Assisted Living of Napa was not “chronically understaffed and poorly run.”
The complaint alleges that Hodnett, who has dementia and is prone to wandering, did not receive the constant supervision that she required. Staff denied Hodnett was unsupervised when she fell last year, according to the lawsuit.
Hodnett is suing parent company Aegis Senior Communities and Paul Oseso, operator of the Napa facility. She doesn’t currently know the names of other facility caretakers and operators at fault, according to the complaint, but Hodnett is also suing them through her son, Dana Hodnett.
The suit was filed by the Long Beach-based Garcia, Artigliere and Medby firm, which specializes in elder abuse cases.
She is seeking, among other things, to be paid an unspecified amount and punitive damages, or a non-financial punishment to be levied on the accused.
A spokeswoman for Aegis did not make Oseso available for a comment, but denied the allegations in the lawsuit and said the company intends to defend the case. It declined to comment on the specific case further, citing privacy laws that prevent medical care providers from disclosing personal information.
"Aegis of Napa is honored to have provided compassionate and loving care to our community's frail elderly for over 20 years," the company said in a statement. " Aegis Living has consistently received awards for Best Family Owned Business, Best Retirement Facility, and Corporate Citizenship. We are unable to comment on this specific resident's care due to privacy obligations. However, we absolutely deny the allegations in the complaint and will vigorously defend this case."
Hodnett was originally admitted to the facility in 2014. Two years later, she fell and underwent surgery for a broken hip, the complaint says. She was readmitted in 2016 and fell in the bathroom in 2017.
The lawsuit alleges that facility staff should have known they couldn’t accommodate Hodnett, but readmitted her anyway.
After her return to Aegis, she developed a bedsore that turned to a pressure ulcer, which staff allegedly tried to cover up. The injury ate her tissue to the bone, according to the complaint.
The injuries were discovered during a doctor’s appointment. Hodnett was subsequently transferred to a hospital, according to the lawsuit, and was later placed in a skilled nursing facility.
The facility has been cited in recent years for issues involving dementia patients, according to California Department of Social Services inspection reports.
A 2017 report found a resident wandered out of the facility for 10 minutes. A 2016 report found the janitor’s closet unlocked, though state law requires dementia patients be kept away from cleaning supplies.
Judge Diane Price is scheduled to meet with both sides on Feb. 26 to determine how the case should be handled, according to the case file.
Editor's Note: This item has been modified to include additional comments from Aegis.