WATCH: Attorneys speak about lawsuit on behalf of nursing home resident ‘cruelly deprived of food and water’

Louisiana

Lawyer representing Darlene Franklin: "We need to do better."

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – It was just ten days ago when more than 800 patients were found inside a warehouse facility in Tangipahoa Parish.

The Louisiana Department of Health almost immediately ordered the closure of seven nursing homes.

Darlene Franklin was one of those 843 nursing home patients who was taken out of the facility after Hurricane Ida.

On Friday night, lawyers representing Franklin filed a lawsuit in the 19th Judicial District Court on behalf of the hospice patient.

At an 11 a.m. news conference on Monday, a lawyer representing Franklin said, “It’s a little bit too late for the seven individuals who died.”

The same lawyer made these points at the news conference:

  • Darlene Franklin is currently at a nursing home in New Roads, Louisiana
  • Franklin was once an employee of Baton Rouge businessman, Bob Dean Jr.
  • Five years after retiring, her representatives claim that Franklin is a victim of her former boss
  • Franklin was not given her medications and did not eat for two days

The attorney believes the state is responsible in this case because according to him, they approved the plan to move 800 nursing home residents to the warehouse.

According to the attorney, “Somehow the State of Louisiana approved a hurricane evacuation plan that said. ‘you know what we’re going to roll out 800 some cots, stick them in a hot warehouse, put two or three porta-potties in there and just leave these people sitting until the storm blows over.'”

It was stressed by Franklin’s representatives that proactive measures should have been taken and that this did not have to happen.

Byron Cole then stepped to the microphone and said they are seeking justice for the citizens of New Orleans.

The lawyers released this statement prior to the 11 a.m. news conference:

Lawyers from Haley & Associates, the Unglesby Law Firm, and Dedrick A. Moore Attorneys at Law have been retained to represent Darlene Franklin. Ms. Franklin, a hospice patient, was evacuated to a filthy and sweltering hot warehouse facility with hundreds of other medically fragile and elderly residents of Bob Dean’s nursing home facilities. During her days there, Ms. Franklin was cruelly deprived of food and water and made to sit in her own excrement. She was mentally and emotionally tormented by the sounds of her neighbors crying for help, but she and those around her were repeatedly denied the assistance they so desperately needed. They were packed into a warehouse, discarded like trash, and forced to endure the putrid smell of the portable toilets overflowing with human waste as their most basic needs and medical requirements went ignored. Additionally, Covid-19 precautions were callously disregarded as already vulnerable residents were pushed closer and closer together. Ms. Franklin was defenseless, helpless, and inhumanely treated by those entrusted to care for her.

Bob Dean and his facilities have come under scrutiny for numerous incidents, including one resident drowning, one overdosing from cocaine, and another found covered in fire ants. Shockingly, two residents died during or shortly after a previous hurricane evacuation to a similar warehouse setting. The federal Medicare Nursing Home Compare website shows that most of Dean’s facilities get one star out of five, a rating defined as “much below average.” Nevertheless— despite its knowledge of the suffering of the residents— Louisiana Department of Health has continued to allow him and operate as a vicious slumlord over our state’s most vulnerable citizens. LDH knew Dean’s evacuation plans were insufficient yet still approved them.

We are committed to obtaining justice for Ms. Franklin and everyone who has suffered at the hands of Bob Dean. Ron Haley is a nationally recognized civil rights attorney who fiercely and effectively advocates for his clients both in the courtroom and in the media. He has appeared on CBS, CNN, and NBC, among other networks, and his clients’ stories have been documented in noteworthy news sources such as the Associated Press and the New York Times. Lewis Unglesby has been practicing law for close to fifty years and has achieved over twenty-five multi-million-dollar jury awards and over forty-five jury awards exceeding one million dollars. He is certified as a trial advocacy specialist and has argued before the Louisiana Supreme Court more than twenty times. Together, Haley and Associates and the Unglesby Law Firm have secured an $8.2 million award in October 2019 for a client suffering from mesothelioma, and an $18.9 million award in January 2021 for a client dealing with the debilitating effects of a traumatic brain injury.

The abuse and neglect that Ms. Franklin and so many others have endured can no longer be ignored. We will be filing a lawsuit tomorrow in the 19th Judicial District Court of Louisiana on Ms. Franklin’s behalf and will relentlessly fight for her until justice is served.

There will be a press conference held outside the 19th Judicial District Court Monday, September 13th at 11:00 am regarding the case.

Ronald S. Haley, Jr., Lewis O. Unglesby, Lance Unglesby,

Jordan Bollinger and Dedrick A. Moore

Watch the full press conference below:

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