Nursing Home Residents Not Entitled to Summary Judgment in Lawsuit Against CA for Refusing to Enforce Readmission Orders

A U.S. district court holds that three California nursing home residents are not entitled to summary judgment or a preliminary injunction in their lawsuit against the state alleging the state did not enforce readmission orders against nursing homes that had refused to readmit them. Anderson v. Ghaly (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., No. 15-cv-05120-HSG, June 15, 2020).

Bruce Anderson, John Wilson, and Robert Austin were nursing home residents in California who were transferred to a hospital and then were refused readmittance by their nursing homes. All three appealed the nursing homes' decision not to readmit them and all three prevailed, but the nursing homes did not readmit them. The residents complained to the state, but the state failed to enforce the readmission orders.

The residents sued the state under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the state violated the Federal Nursing Home Reform Amendments (FNHRA). The residents argued that because the state doesn't enforce readmission orders, the state has not provided residents with their right to an administrative procedure that provides for prompt readmission if they are successful. The district court dismissed the complaint, holding that FNHRA’s appeals provision is not enforceable under § 1983. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the decision, holding that § 1983 does provide a remedy for enforcement of the right to an appeal under FNHRA. On remand, the residents filed a motion for summary judgment and a motion for a preliminary injunction, asking the court to order the state to enforce readmission orders. The state argued that it wasn’t clear that all the residents were entitled to readmission and that the state had issued citations and levied monetary penalties on some of the nursing homes that refused to readmit the residents.

The U.S. District Court, District of Northern California, denies the motions for summary judgment and preliminary injunction. The court rules that summary judgment is not appropriate because numerous fact issues remain, including whether the nursing homes were cited for not readmitting residents. According to the court, “in light of the Ninth Circuit’s statement that the ‘issu[ance of] a citation pursuant to state licensing laws’ would call into question how [the residents] could show that ‘the administrative remedies provided by California law are unavailable to enforce a favorable order after an appeal that a specific resident be readmitted to a nursing facility,’ these citations also highlight a genuine issue of fact as to whether any federal violation occurred.” The court holds that the preliminary injunction “is not warranted because the underlying merits are very much in dispute, ‘the law and facts’ do not clearly favor [the residents], and a number of [the residents’] factual allegations have been called into question.”

For the full text of this decision, go to: v. Ghaly.docx

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