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Oakland Personal Injury Lawyer / Blog / Personal Injury / Court Rules Wrongful Business Practices and Wrongful Death Not Related Claims in Lawsuit Against Nursing Home

Court Rules Wrongful Business Practices and Wrongful Death Not Related Claims in Lawsuit Against Nursing Home


In Oxnard Manor LP v. Hallmark Specialty Ins. Co, a U.S. District Court for the Central District of California was asked to decide whether or not a wrongful business practices claim and a wrongful death claim, both of which alleged understaffing, constituted related claims. The issue mattered because the defendant’s insurance company refused to take liability and defend the insured in the lawsuit. The insurance company alleged that the original plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed in 2014—before the insured had a policy with the company. This claim involved the wrongful death of a nursing home resident. The plaintiffs alleged that a systematic process of understaffing was used to boost profits at the cost of the quality of care.

The plaintiffs filed a second lawsuit against the nursing home alleging wrongful business practices. The nursing home asked their insurance company to defend them from the claim, and the insurance company refused arguing that the lawsuit was related to the previous wrongful death lawsuit, and the nursing home did not have a policy with the insurance company in 2014 when the original lawsuit was filed. The nursing home then sued their insurance company alleging that the insurance company had a duty to defend them from the lawsuit. Ultimately, a judge was asked to weigh in on the matter and found in favor of the nursing home. The judge ruled that the two cases were not related and thus, the insurance company would have to represent the plaintiff in the second lawsuit.

Understanding the original plaintiff’s claims 

In 2014, the original plaintiffs filed a wrongful business practices lawsuit against the nursing home. In this lawsuit, they alleged that the facility conceived and implemented a plan to wrongfully increase business profits by understaffing their facilities and underfunding patient-resident services. In 2018, the same plaintiffs filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility following the death of a resident who died after being repositioned and bathed. They alleged, among other things, that the facility was understaffed. The 2018 lawsuit set off the conflict between the insured and their insurance company.

In this case, the court granted summary judgment to the insured nursing home finding that the 2018 lawsuit was made during the 2018-2019 policy period and thus, triggered coverage. According to the court, although both the 2014 and 2018 claims were logically connected based on allegations of understaffing, the specific patient incident in the 2018 lawsuit was insufficiently connected to the wrongful business practices alleged in the 2014 lawsuit.

 Talk to an Oakland, CA Nursing Home Negligence Attorney Today 

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a California nursing home, the Oakland personal injury attorneys at Venardi Zurada can help you file a lawsuit and hold the offending nursing home accountable for their negligence. Too often, businesses place profits over people and the result is that the patients in nursing homes don’t get the care they need. This often results in the preventable deaths of their residents. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation and hold these companies accountable for their greed.



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