NEW ORLEANS — Embattled owner Bob Dean Jr. is not only trying to dismiss multiple lawsuits against him over the ill-fated evacuation of more than 800 patients from his nursing homes during Hurricane Ida, his attorneys claim he is in such poor health he is unable to travel or answer questions in a deposition.
In court documents filed by Dean, his attorneys argue that he is suffering from dementia and cognitive impairment.
The motion to protect Dean from questioning cites opinions from two doctors who have treated the 68-year-old nursing home mogul, including a neurologist and hematologist. The physicians practice in Georgia, the state where Dean has been claiming to live since shortly after Ida slammed into Southeast Louisiana as a destructive Category 4 hurricane.
“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. Several plaintiff’s attorneys dismissed the motion as a stall tactic and vowed to go forward with their claims.
At the heart of the claims against Dean and his companies are accounts of dire conditions that overtook the Dean-owned warehouse four days after Ida hit. After a flurry of 9-1-1 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. The agency later revoked the licenses of all seven of Dean’s nursing homes, a move that Dean is currently appealing.
Dean’s attorneys have previously filed motions to dismiss the suits, which are being considered for consolidation as a class action claim in federal court. They also are fighting to have the lawsuits – which include more than 120 plaintiffs – handled as medical malpractice claims, which are much more difficult to prove than standard lawsuits.
But the biggest hurdles to moving forward now are the questions being raised about Dean’s health. In court filings, Dean’s attorneys refer to oral surgery in June 2021 that left resulted in “severe weight loss, the inability to sleep, and most importantly, unforeseen cognitive impairments.”
The motion goes on to state, “Since then, Mr. Dean uses oxygen to facilitate and improve his breathing. Mr. Dean also suffered permanent damage to his tongue, thus affecting his speech.”
Despite those claims, a WWL-TV reporter spoke to Mr. Dean in the days after Ida hit. His comments were often unresponsive to the questions being asked, sometimes veering into incoherence, but he seemed articulate and his voice was clear.
Yet a motion filed by Dean’s attorneys quotes a Jan. 6 letter from one of Dean’s doctors stating that he suffers with “significant dementia and cognitive impairment that cause him to become easily confused, poor memory, and recollection issues, fear and anxiety.”
At the center of the lawsuits are claims that patients were deprived of dialysis treatment and oxygen, suffered 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,” one of the petition claims.
Defense attorneys previously described Dean’s claims of health problems as a “stall tactic.”
“I see this is just another delay tactic,” said plaintiff’s attorney Madro Banderies. “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.”
WWL-TV reached out to Dean’s attorneys for comment Thursday, but have not 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.”