METAIRIE, La. (WGNO) — It has been almost a year since Hurricane Ida swept through Louisiana causing mass destruction of buildings and lives. Many people, including nursing home operators across the state, were among the ones who were not prepared. During the evacuation, nearly 1,000 elderly residents living in seven facilities owned by Bob Dean were transported to a warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish to evacuate which led many to suffer and multiple to die in an inadequate facility.
Dean has since been arrested and charged with felony cruelty, Medicaid fraud, and obstruction of justice, but on Thursday, victims were given a sort of closure as a settlement was reached in a class action lawsuit. Just four days short of the anniversary of Ida’s landfall in Louisiana, lawyers representing 843 nursing home residents announced a preliminary settlement agreement at the Old Metairie Library.
According to the lawyers, the settlement will range from $12 million to $15 million, meaning each victim will have a chance of receiving more than $17,000. The money will be paid by Dean’s insurers. View the full press conference in the player below.
“We are breaking records by doing this in advance of the one-year anniversary,” Attorney Blair Constant said in a press conference on Thursday. According to the attorney, a class-action suit like this could take anywhere between three and five years to reach a settlement.
However, there’s still more work to be done. On October 3, a fairness hearing will determine the final approval of the settlement.
“This was never about money, for me, it’s about making sure Mr. Dean can never do this to anyone else,” said Janice Verdin, a nurse who was at the warehouse and lost her aunt due to this tragedy.
Verdin recalled the moment she knew they were in trouble upon arriving at the warehouse.
“As soon as I walked in, and I saw the mattresses and stuff on the floor, I was like, ‘No, this is not going to be good,'” Verdin said.
Another plaintiff whose father survived the evacuation says she appreciates the attorneys’ diligence in getting this agreement secured ahead of Ida’s one-year anniversary.
“We want it to happen now because not only does my dad deserve justice, all of the family members that are included deserve justice,” said Rashell Powell, whose father was taken to the warehouse.
Louisiana lawmakers have also joined in on the topic, establishing new preparedness laws for nursing homes to adequate care for residents during a disaster. State leaders with the Louisiana Department of Health emphasized earlier this month that enacting these procedures will prevent history from repeating itself during the next hurricane.