Court dismisses convicted care home's argument after death of resident

Deceased's heirs sue company, and its director and manager, after senior left the facility, walked for miles, and got hit by a car

Court dismisses convicted care home's argument after death of resident

The extended statute of limitations that victims have to bring an action for personal injury or wrongful death is inapplicable to the felon’s employer, a California court has ruled.

In Cardenas et al. v. Horizon Senior Living Inc., a resident of Horizon Senior Living, Inc., who had dementia, left the senior assisted living facility many times. In 2014, he wandered for several miles and died when a car hit him.

The facility’s director received a conviction for felony elder abuse and manslaughter with the special allegation that the elder abuse was likely to cause great bodily injury or death. The facility’s manager was convicted of felony elder abuse.

The resident’s heirs filed an action against the facility, its director, and its manager. The heirs made claims of negligence, willful misconduct, elder abuse, and wrongful death. They alleged that the facility was not licensed to care for dementia patients and that the defendants fell short of the standard of care.

Read more: Resident claims California business owners were negligent regarding her sexual assault

The facility filed a demurrer. It argued that the two-year statute of limitations barred the complaint. The trial court sustained the demurrer, which prompted the heirs to appeal.

The California Court of Appeal for the Second District affirmed the trial court’s judgment. Section 335.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure imposes a two-year statute of limitations for injury or wrongful death. The heirs did not challenge the finding that this statute of limitations had expired, given that they had brought their complaint nearly six years after the resident’s death.

The appellate court assumed, for the sole purposes of this appeal, that the complaint against the director and manager was timely under s. 340.3 of the Code, which provided the extended statute of limitations. However, the facility, as the employer of the persons convicted, should be discussed separately.

Section 340.3 did not apply to the facility since it did not receive any convictions, the appellate court ruled. The present complaint against the facility was not based on a conviction, the court noted.

Lastly, the heirs had no cause of action under s. 2802 of the Labor Code, which permits employees to be indemnified by their employer, the appellate court said. That legal provision was inapplicable to third parties and gave no “access to the employer’s or its insurer’s pocketbook through a third party suit against the employee,” the court concluded.

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