LAKE WACCAMAW, NC (WECT) - A former resident of a Columbus County assisted living facility closed by the state two months ago has filed a class action lawsuit alleging the facility’s owners intentionally breached their contractual obligation to take care of their residents.
The N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation, a division of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, suspended Lake Pointe Assisted Living’s license Oct. 17 after an investigation found “evidence of neglect and failure to protect residents from potential harm that presents an imminent danger to the health and welfare of residents in the home,” state documents show.
Officials say the facility’s residents were shuttled to other locations following Lake Pointe’s closure.
The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 28 by a woman who lived in the facility from May to October, seeks to recover damages in excess of $25,000. The facility’s owners, Tony and Edith Bigler, of Fayetteville, are named as defendants.
“This class action arises out of defendants’ failure to materially comply with the terms of their contractual promises to plaintiff and the class members to (1) provide assistance with eating, walking, dressing, bathing, personal grooming, and ambulating and to provide appropriate supervision on a 24-hour basis, (2) provide care and services which were adequate, appropriate, and in compliance with relevant federal and state laws and rules and regulations and (3) provide personal care service (PCS) hours equal to the number of approved PCS hours,” former Lake Pointe Assisted Living resident Martha Reinert’s complaint states.
Class members are defined as “all persons who were residents of Lake Pointe Assisted Living from Dec. 1, 2014 through the present,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit specifically points to staffing issues, claiming the facility intentionally staffed Lake Pointe at levels “that would make it impossible” to provide services it had contractually agreed to provide.
The suit also references Lake Pointe’s numerous prior violations issued by the state as evidence of the Bigler’s failure to comply with their contractual promises.
“Defendants’ unfair trade practices have directly and proximately caused Plaintiff and the Class Members’ damages in an amount in excess of $25,000, said amount to be proven at the trial of this action,” the lawsuit states.
The state’s investigation began when another resident, 64-year-old Jerry Singletary, called the DHHS on Oct. 14.
“If I hadn’t got it started, I don’t know what would happen,” Singletary said in October. “I didn’t really realize how bad it was until I experienced coming here."