In a Wednesday morning press conference at their 1846 Rose Tree Lane home, Mary and Paul French and their attorneys told the media that they filed a lawsuit earlier that day against the Quadrangle and its owners, Sunrise Senior Living, for what they claim is the nursing home’s alleged involvement in the cover-up of the alleged abuse of Lois McCallister, who suffers from severe dementia.
McCallister has been living with her daughter Mary French and her family after being moved out of the Haverford facility back in March of this year after her family discovered, via a secret hidden camera placed in her room in Quadrangle by her son-in-law Paul French, that she was being allegedly abused by three staff members.
Authorities alleged that the three former Quadrangle care staff, who have since been fired, Samirah Traynham, 22, Tyrina Griffin, 21, and Ayesha Muhammad, 19 forced McCallister to go topless and mocked and abused her in one incident on March 31 of this year when McCallister was 78 years old. She is now 79.
The three have been charged with assault and related charges. Video of that incident can be viewed here.
Attorney Andrew Duffy stated on Wednesday to the Haverford-Havertown Patch and during the press conference that Sunrise was in violation of a December 2009 notice from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) regarding resident mistreatment at its Newtown Square facility.
In April of 2010, an agreement was reached between Sunrise and DPW where Sunrise would instruct its staff on creating a “culture change” where residents would come first, according to Duffy and the complaint, which can be found in PDF form under the pictures.
But according to Duffy and his associate attorney Robert Mongeluzzi, Quadrangle did not comply with the agreement and they also stated that the nursing home facility allegedly broke the law when they did not report to DPW McCallister’s alleged abuse in March of this year when the French Family told Quadrangle.
Quadrangle told the family that McCallister was confused due to her dementia and made up the alleged abuse, her family has said.
In a DPW report, which accompanies this article, into the alleged abuse stated that the facility was uncooperative with the department and that it fired one of the defendants before DPW could interview her. The report did not state which of the defendants was fired.
This past May, Sunrise CEO Mark Ordan told Patch, “We report incidents. We are fully cooperative. The second we heard about this incident, I reflexively called the police. I reflexively called the family. We reached out immediately.”
But Mongeluzzi said that any cooperation between Sunrise and the authorities and the DPW is “a flat-out lie.”
In addition, Paul French said during the press conference that Ordan did not ask about his mother-in-law.
“Did he? Is that correct? Let me tell you what he did. He called me and said, ‘I want you to know we are fully cooperating with the authorities,'” stated Paul French as he answered a question by Patch during the press conference about Ordan’s response after the three were arrested. “He never once, never once, called me to apologize …”
Paul French went further and reiterated that the Quadrangle was not cooperating fully with the investigation at that time.
Sunrise issued an emailed statement to Patch regarding the lawsuit.
“Given the McCallister family’s prior statements, Sunrise anticipated the filing of a lawsuit. While we do not comment on pending litigation, Sunrise is committed to providing the best quality care to seniors and fostering a culture that supports the independence, dignity and respect of our residents,” wrote Meghan Lublin, Sunrise’s vice president of Marketing & Communications.
DPW revoked Quadrangle’s operating license in April of this year over the alleged abuse, but it was later reinstated.
The purpose of the lawsuit-which names Sunrise Senior Living, Inc., Sunrise Continuing Care, LLC, The Quadrangle, Traynham, Griffin and Muhammad-is to “shine a light” onto elderly care, said Mongeluzzi.
Mary French said that she hopes that the lawsuit will bring better care for those in nursing homes; with her husband saying that news coverage of the case has offered some positive response. He said that he received a letter from a resident of the Quadrangle, which he shared with Patch after requesting a copy of the letter.
“I’m grateful to you for your initiative to get evidence and then to report it to the police. The Department of Public Welfare has told Sunrise how to improve care. I can say from my own personal daily experience that care in the dementia unit is better and nicer now than it has been for the past two years,” the author of the letter wrote.
Patch has withheld the name of the author to protect his privacy, but a complete copy of the letter can be read under the pictures.
After the press conference, Duffy told Patch that Traynham, Griffin and Muhammad are listed in the lawsuit so they can be asked in court, among other things, if the Quadrangle properly trained them to care for its elderly residents.
Patch called a phone number listed for Traynham and left a voice message, which was not returned. A phone number listed for Muhammad only played a warning message, stating that the inbox was full and could not accept any new voice messages. There was no phone listing for Griffin.
A criminal trial against the three is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 14 of this year.
Since McCallister has moved in with the French Family, a room and a handicap bathroom was installed in the first floor for her care, said Mary French.
Both during the press conference and afterwards to Patch, she said that it was hard for them to trust elder care workers after what allegedly happened to her mother, but she did say that she realizes that “At some point we will have to trust someone,” she said to Patch.