Legal Mediation to Proceed in Evergreen Lakeport Healthcare Case
Tuesday, September, 27, 2011
Legal mediation is a frequent strategy for those who want to settle a dispute outside the court system. Sometimes, however, a dispute ends up in court first and only later moves to mediation. This is the situation in the case between Phyllis Wehlage and Evergreen Lakeport Healthcare, part of Evergreen California Healthcare and associated with EmpRes Healthcare.
The case began in the Superior Court of Sonoma County. The defendants initially attempted to get the lawsuit against them dismissed. When federal Judge Claudia Wilken denied that motion, it became possible for the case to expand beyond the individual plaintiff of Phyllis Wehlage into a class action suit concerning “indignities and other harms” that were a direct result of inadequate staffing levels for nurses, according to the complaint.
Patricia McGinnis, who directs the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, believes that “understaffing is a chronic condition in California. There's no question about it. The problems that emanate from understaffing are huge.”
Legal Mediation set for October 24
Mediation in the case was requested by attorneys for EmpRes Healthcare. Sessions are scheduled to begin in late October. The California Association of Health Facilities, which represents the vast majority of residential healthcare facilities in the state, believes that litigation is harmful to the entire nursing industry and that disputes such as this are best settled in medical malpractice mediation.