Attorney gets inquiries over care center closure |

Attorney gets inquiries over care center closure

staff reports

Carson City attorney George McNally said he continues to receive calls about the care patients have received while at Valley Meadows Living Center.

“Basically, what I’m going to have to do is meet with these people en masse,” McNally said Wednesday afternoon.

Valley Meadows Living Center announced earlier this month that it would close its doors on Dec. 23 due to financial difficulties. Residents’ families were told they would need to relocate their relatives before that date. Employees were told they would be released.

McNally, who advertised earlier in the year for potential plaintiffs, said he has received two or three calls a week since state inspectors declared Valley Meadows substandard in two areas.

McNally said he wasn’t sure if the families will bring a lawsuit.

“I’m getting some calls from people who are questioning the ongoing care and treatment their loved ones received or the lack of care or treatment their loved ones got there,” he said.

The fact that the center is closing may not be a cause for action, he said. Each case will be reviewed.

McNally is already handling lawsuits filed in 1997 and 1998 by families of patients who lived at the Gardnerville Ranchos nursing home when it was named Cottonwood Care Center and owned by Carson-Tahoe Hospital.

The hospital has since sold the facility, which was renamed Valley Meadows in February 1998. The current operator, an employee-owned group called Valley Meadows Inc., has run the center since April.

In August, McNally began seeking witnesses or family members of patients who may have suffered abuse at Cottonwood Care Center. He said he planned to use their stories to back legal arguments of negligence and abuse that he contends resulted in two deaths and an amputation involving residents of Cottonwood.

McNally has a personal tie to the center – his mother lived at Cottonwood for several years until her death in 1996, and he says he witnessed abusive behavior toward other residents while visiting her.

McNally said he doesn’t expect to meet many more plaintiffs for the Cottonwood lawsuit because of a two-year limit on filing lawsuits that has elapsed for most Cottonwood residents. Cottonwood and Valley Meadows are separate entities, meaning new claims would probably not be litigated with the existing actions.

McNally said he thinks the stories he’s hearing from relatives of Valley Meadows patients will warrant a new lawsuit or suits.

“I think it goes back and reaffirms the allegations of patient neglect when Cottonwood was still the owner,” he said.

McNally said he is in the process of gathering patient records, an effort he described as “tedious” because of conflicting information about the location of the records. In some cases, McNally said, he had to use subpoenas to get the records.

State officials say they will continue to monitor the facility while moving arrangements are made for the patients leading up to the Dec. 23 closure.

– Nevada Appeal News Service writer Christy Chalmers contributed to this report.