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Fallout grows over botched nursing home evacuation, lawyers name state in new lawsuit

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BATON ROUGE - Prominent Baton Rouge lawyers from the Unglesby Law firm and Ron Haley Associates said they filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Health and Bob Dean over a nursing home evacuation that left hundreds of residents stuffed in a warehouse.

It's the second lawsuit filed this week. The first one was a class action lawsuit filed by a law firm out of the New Orleans area.

"It's different because we've named the state as a party," Lance Unglesby said. "The reason why is because they were complicit in the action as well."

"We know that if you have a nursing home in the state of Louisiana, that you have to put on file with the Louisiana Department of Health your hurricane evacuation plan for your residents that you have," Attorney Ron Haley said. "Part of that plan was to send these poor people to a warehouse. That plan should have never been approved. We believe the State of Louisiana through LDH is just as liable as Bob Dean for what happened to these poor people."

Unglesby and Haley are representing Darlene Franklin. She's a former employee of Bob Dean.

"A sad irony of Ms. Franklin, who is a wonderful woman, she was an employee for Bob Dean as a nurse and retired in 2016. And she was a victim," Haley said.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit reported that at least 50 calls to 911 were placed from the warehouse in the aftermath of Ida. When state inspectors showed up, they were turned away from the facility.

"It reminds me of Katrina and the convention center," Unglesby said. "It reminds me of people not getting their needs met, not getting their oxygen, not getting a clean bathroom. When people who are not getting air conditioning, the moans and groans of Katrina. This is what it reminds me of."

Inspection reports obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit show when the State Fire Marshal's Office conducted an inspection, they found numerous deficiencies.

The State said it has no information about being named as a defendant in the lawsuit, and as of Friday evening had not been served.


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