For over 25 years, Kathryn Stebner has fought for the rights of seniors. Stebner Gertler Guadagni & Kawamoto brings this commitment and experience to targeted class actions and multiparty consolidated cases it files on behalf of groups of seniors who experience neglect and abuse at the hands of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, as well as seniors targeted by unscrupulous businesses seeking access to their hard-earned retirement funds.
What Is A Class Action?
A class action allows many persons who have been wronged by the same business to join together to demand justice. Litigation can be costly and time-consuming. Sometimes individuals feel that one person doesn’t stand a chance against a large corporation. This is especially true when the amount of the claim, though significant to the person harmed, is not great enough to justify the cost of litigation against a big corporation with many resources. In a class action, many individuals who have been similarly wronged by the same business can make their voices heard by joining together, sharing resources and simplifying the process. Through the force of numbers and collaboration, plaintiffs in a class action suit often have a greater impact on a business’s dishonest practices than an individual lawsuit might.
What Is A Multiparty Case?
A multiparty case is similar to a class action in that individual claims against the same defendant are grouped together to have a greater impact and make the process more efficient. In these cases, however, there are often significant issues specific to each individual, making it more appropriate to keep each person’s claim separate, while simultaneously benefiting from coordinated discovery and court decisions on common issues.
Current Cases And Past Successes
Stiner v. Brookdale Senior Living
Stiner v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc. is a proposed class action lawsuit pending in federal district court in San Francisco, Case Number 4:17-cv-03962-HSG (LB). The case is assigned to Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr.
In July 2017, current and former Brookdale residents sued Brookdale alleging elder financial abuse and widespread violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”). Brookdale is the largest provider of assisted living for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in the U.S. There are more than 20,000 current and former residents in Brookdale’s 61 assisted living facilities in California. A link to the operative complaint in the case, the Third Amended Complaint, along with Orders issued by the Court and a phone number you can call if you would like more information or want to provide information about your own experience, can be found at the bottom of this page.
Unauthorized Practice Of Law
Legal document preparation businesses have proliferated in recent years. Many target seniors who worry about what will happen to their family members when they die. They need a will or a living trust, but can’t afford or don’t want to pay for an attorney. Yet customers often expect attorney-quality work, and these businesses do not always disclose their limitations upfront. They cannot provide legal advice or correct material errors, and those who do are practicing law without a license, frequently at great risk to the consumer.
Stebner Gertler Guadagni & Kawamoto filed a class action suit against We The People, a nationwide document preparation service, alleging unauthorized practice of law, elder abuse and unfair business practices. Many of our clients had discovered that their discounted estate planning documents were not valid or did not protect their family members as they had hoped.
We have also filed a class action lawsuit against LegalZoom.com, Inc., on behalf of seniors and other consumers. LegalZoom promises consumers that it will provide attorney-quality services, unlimited customer support, guaranteed satisfaction and a peace of mind review to insure the validity of the customers’ estate planning documents. Yet LegalZoom cannot provide legal advice, make guarantees about a legal documents validity or alert its customers to material errors. Consumers do not know that LegalZoom cannot and does not provide the services promised until it is too late.
Viaticals And Life Settlements
Stebner Gertler Guadagni & Kawamoto filed a multiparty lawsuit on behalf of over 60 seniors who were convinced to place their retirement funds in unsuitable and risky investments in viatical settlements based on incomplete and untrue information. They achieved a significant financial settlement for their clients, who previously feared that they would lose their life savings.
Stebner Gertler Guadagni & Kawamoto is always investigating areas of financial abuse and consumer fraud targeted toward seniors, such as marketing of unsuitable investments or preying on fears about incapacity. In addition to cases similar to those listed above, we are currently looking into some of the following patterns of consumer fraud:
Inadequate Staffing In Nursing Homes
Many skilled nursing facilities do not maintain staffing numbers sufficient to care for their residents, resulting in dangerous and inhumane conditions. This understaffing violates patients’ rights and has been successfully attacked through class action cases.
Inadequate Staffing In Assisted Living Facilities
Stebner Gertler Guadagni & Kawamoto filed two class action cases against SunWest Management alleging inadequate staffing of assisted living facilities in Oregon and California. Part of the their resolution required SunWest facilities in Oregon and California to submit to monitoring of staffing issues by an independent expert.
Annuities are often aggressively marketed to seniors without a full explanation of the risks and disadvantages involved by the broker or the annuity salesperson who has a financial interest in making the sale. Seniors don’t realize that they could lose their home or that they might be tying up money they will need.
Additional case areas include qui tam, medication errors, home health agencies, and veterans aid consultants.
We have noticed an upsurge in financial elder abuse by veterans’ consultants or benefits consultants who talk elders into restructuring their finances, purchasing an annuity, and/or paying a steep fee in order to obtain the Veterans Aid and Assistance Benefit. In many cases, the fee is illegal and the advice is against the best interests of the seniors involved.