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Houma nursing home trial claims evacuation resulted in death of resident

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Three children of a resident of the Houma retirement home who died after being evacuated to a warehouse in Tangipahoa parish during Hurricane Ida filed a complaint against the establishment and its owner.

Thomas Becnel Jr., Darren Becnel and James Becnel filed the complaint Friday at the parish of Terrebonne on behalf of their late father, Thomas Becnel Sr., who resided at Maison DeVille in Houma, according to court records.

Thomas Becnel Sr. died on August 30, a day after the Category 4 hurricane made landfall and left a trail of destruction in Terrebonne and Lafourche, according to the prosecution.

This is the latest in several lawsuits against seven nursing homes and their owner, Bob Dean Jr. of Baton Rouge. At least seven evacuation-related deaths have been reported. Lawsuits brought by the families of those who died allege that the evacuees endured inhumane conditions, including being forced to sleep on concrete floors as water began to seep into the building.

The lawsuits allege that more than 800 nursing home residents and staff survived the hurricane as conditions began to deteriorate.

Following:Hundreds of nursing home residents will remain evacuated until Houma hospitals come back online

“During the botched evacuation, Thomas Becnel Sr. was neglected and his medical needs were not met, which ultimately resulted in his untimely death,” says the latest trial. “The immediate, contributory and legal cause of injury and death of Thomas Becnel Sr. includes the negligent, serious and criminal action and / or inaction of Bob Dean Jr., as owner and operator of Maison DeVille Nursing. Home. The plaintiffs and their deceased relatives were not at fault.

Thibodaux’s attorney, Matt Ory of AMO Trial Lawyers, who represents the plaintiffs, said Dean was personally responsible for the unfortunate evacuation and the way it was carried out by staff at his seven nursing homes .

“Unfortunately for Mr. Becnel and the other residents, Dean appears to have put safety first and acted with complete disregard for the health and well-being of Becnel and the other residents,” Ory said. “Dean ignored an evacuation plan that had previously been submitted by his nursing homes to the (Louisiana Department of Health), and in the end, his conduct resulted in the deaths of many residents. We believe that Mr. Dean’s conduct was so abhorrent as to amount to the level of criminal negligence, and Mr. Becnel’s death was homicide by criminal negligence.

The lawsuit accuses Dean of not having:

  • Evacuate Maison DeVille in complete safety.
  • Follow the evacuation plan previously approved by the Ministry of Health.
  • Adequately supervise the evacuation.
  • Contact the family of Thomas Becnel Sr.
  • Have adequate caregivers and supplies at the warehouse
  • Use safe work practices and provide appropriate supervision for those working in the warehouse.

The plaintiffs are asking for a jury trial.

Baton Rouge attorney John McLindon, who represents Dean, said the Louisiana Department of Health approved the evacuation plan before the storm made landfall.

“The LDH had employees at the facility on August 27 and 28, two days and one day before the hurricane made landfall,” McLindon said in a telephone interview Thursday. “The LDH checked and said in their report that there were lots of supplies, water and everything looked fine. And then, unfortunately, the storm moved east and passed through Independence, Louisiana, where the facility was located. This caused some issues, but I don’t think they are as bad as described.

Following:‘I’m still crying’: family members heartbroken by nursing home evacuation

McLindon said tough decisions were made quickly to protect the evacuees from the dangerous storm.

“There were three buildings where people were staying,” he said. “Once they realized the storm was right on them, the administrators made the decision to get everyone into the safest building. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. They were forced to make decisions in a very tense and rapidly changing situation. ”

The plan Dean submitted to the state is not the one he implemented, Ory said.

Also:Lawyer for Nursing Home Owner Says Reports of Horrible Conditions “Greatly Exaggerated”

“State regulators have done their job on this matter,” Ory said. “The system has not failed; on the contrary, Mr. Dean blatantly flouted the rules, including ignoring a plan he had previously drafted and submitted, and his criminal negligence led to this tragedy. In order to prevent something like this from happening again, the community must see Mr. Dean paying for his actions. Hopefully, the deterrent effect of financial ruin will discourage anyone tasked with caring for our elderly citizens from trying to cut corners on a future evacuation. Profit should never compromise care.

– Editor-in-Chief Dan Copp can be reached at 448-7639 or dan.copp@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanVCopp.