NEW ORLEANS — Already facing more than a dozen consolidated lawsuits claiming poor treatment of patients from his seven nursing homes in an ill-fated evacuation during Hurricane Ida, the embattled owner of those facilities is now facing 120 new plaintiffs who have been added to the case.
The new plaintiffs were added to the federal lawsuit filed against Bob Dean Jr. by the law firm Morris Bart LLC, according to recent court filings. The new allegations come as Dean has been unsuccessful in his attempts to dismiss the lawsuits, which claim that his patients suffered from neglect after being brought to a former industrial warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish that was leaky, over-crowded and poorly equipped. The lawsuits claim patients suffered from a lack of basic necessities such as food, water and bathroom facilities.
While Dean’s earlier dismissal motions have failed, his attorneys this week filed a new motion to try to block his deposition due to his failing health.
“Mr. Dean is not only unfit to travel, but due to his current health condition, is unable to testify,” states the motion for a protective order. Details about the 68-year-old Dean’s medical problems were filed under seal, but several plaintiff’s attorneys dismissed the motion as a stall tactic and vowed to go forward.
“He can file whatever motion he wants, we are pushing forward and intend to bring him to justice and make him pay,” said Matthew Hemmer of Morris Bart, LLC.
“I see this is just another delay tactic,” said attorney Madro Banderies, another plaintiff’s attorney. “Dean clearly doesn’t want to give a deposition to give his side of the story because it can only reveal his incompetence and lack of care for the elderly patients he was supposed to take care of.”
At the heart of the claims are accounts of dire conditions that overtook the Dean-owned warehouse four days after Ida hit. After a flurry of 911 calls from patients and their families, the state Department of Health raided the building and evacuated the 843 patients in a caravan of ambulances. LDH said the deaths of at least five of those patients were directly linked to the evacuation and conditions at the warehouse.
LDH revoked the licenses of all seven of Dean’s nursing homes, a move that Dean is currently appealing.
At least 80 of the newly added 120 plaintiffs had to be evacuated from the Tangipahoa warehouse, according to the amended lawsuit.
In some of the most detailed complaints outlined to date, individual claims filed by the 80 patients include lack of dialysis treatment, lack of oxygen, bed sores, rashes, hives, infections, deprivation of wheelchairs and medication, as well as post-traumatic stress syndrome from watching fellow patients die.
“The warehouse was unsuitable and the conditions therein exposed patients to harsh conditions that deprived them of their human dignity, as well as causing injuries and death to many,” the petition claims.
The suit goes on to claim, “Mr. Dean selected the warehouse as the evacuation site not based on patient assessment, need, habitability, or safety but, instead, based on cost savings, profit, and because it was one of the Dean Enterprise's available properties.”
WWL-TV reached out to Dean’s attorneys for comment Wednesday, but have not yet received a response. In an earlier interview, one of Dean’s attorneys, John McLindon, said accounts about conditions at the warehouse “have been greatly exaggerated.”
“In a very prudent move, Mr. Dean moved the patients to his other facility,” McLindon said. “Did garbage stack up outside? Absolutely. Did it get picked up? No, because there was a hurricane…Some water got into the building, but the report of five to eight inches is greatly exaggerated.”