Attorney gets inquiries over care center closure |

Attorney gets inquiries over care center closure

by Christy Chalmers

A Carson City attorney says the pending closure of Valley Meadows Living Center has resulted in inquiries by people interested in lawsuits he is pursuing.

George McNally, who advertised earlier in the year for potential plaintiffs, said people have been calling since state inspectors declared Valley Meadows substandard in two areas and the group running the facility announced plans to close because of financial problems.

“I have been contacted by a number of people regarding the care or lack thereof at Valley Meadows,” said McNally. “As each day goes by, I’m getting one to three calls a day.”

McNally is already handling lawsuits filed in 1997 and 1998 by families of patients who lived at the Gardnerville Ranchos nursing home when it was named Cottonwood Care Center and owned by Carson-Tahoe Hospital.

The hospital has since sold the facility, which was renamed Valley Meadows in February 1998. The current operator, an employee-owned group called Valley Meadows Inc., has run the center since April of this year.

In August, McNally began soliciting contact with witnesses or family members of patients who may have suffered abuse at Cottonwood Care Center. He said he planned to use their stories to back legal arguments of negligence and abuse that he contends resulted in two deaths and an amputation involving residents of Cottonwood. McNally has a personal tie to the center – he says his mother lived at Cottonwood for several years until her death in 1996, and he witnessed abusive behavior toward other residents while visiting her.

McNally said he doesn’t expect to meet many more plaintiffs for the Cottonwood suit because of a two-year limit on filing lawsuits that has elapsed for most Cottonwood residents. Cottonwood and Valley Meadows are separate entities, meaning new claims would probably not be litigated with the existing actions.

McNally said he thinks the stories he’s hearing from relatives of Valley Meadows patients will warrant a new lawsuit or suits.

“I think it goes back and reaffirms the allegations of patient neglect when Cottonwood was still the owner,” he said.

McNally said he is in the process of gathering patient records, an effort he described as “tedious” because of conflicting information about the location of the records. In some cases, McNally said he had to use subpoenas to get the records.

Valley Meadows plans to close Dec. 23. State officials will continue to monitor the facility while moving arrangements are made for the patients.