NEW ORLEANS — Embattled Louisiana nursing home owner Bob Dean Jr. is facing fast-approaching legal deadlines as the one-year anniversary approaches of the ill-fated evacuation of more than 800 of his nursing home patients into his poorly-equipped and leaky warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish.
Dean traveled from his home in Georgia to make a court appearance in Amite Thursday that will likely be his last criminal court appearance before the deadline hits for the Louisiana Attorney General’s office to file formal criminal charges.
Dean was booked June 23 with 15 counts of cruelty to the infirm, five counts of Medicaid fraud and two counts of obstruction of justice. The AG’s office has until August 23 to present the charges.
New Orleans attorney Morris Bart, who represents 150 plaintiffs who have sued Bob Dean, used Dean’s appearance Thursday to personally serve him with paperwork in those civil lawsuits on behalf of patients and their families.\
The Louisiana Department of Health, which had to stage and emergency evacuation of Dean’s patients amid deteriorating conditions, said at least four of those patients died as a direct result of the lack of food, water, sanitation and medical supplies.
Bart said he is pushing to get Dean to sit for a deposition in New Orleans Civil District Court as early as next week, something that Dean has ducked so far, with his attorneys claiming dementia and other health ailments have left him mentally incompetent to testify.
“Things are moving,” Bart said. “We're circling him. And I expect that eventually he's going to have to answer for the travesty that occurred.”
While Dean’s attorneys have filed a note from a doctor stating that their client is too ill to sit for questioning, Bart and other attorneys aren’t convinced and are seeking an independent medical diagnosis.
“Based on Bob Dean's past conduct we have reason to doubt his veracity regarding his competence or quite frankly anything else he says,” Bart said.
Dean’s attorneys did not return calls for comment Friday, but they previously said the 69-year-old had received LDH approval to use the Tangipahoa warehouse as an evacuation site and that reports of dire conditions there have been exaggerated.
Bart said evidence and testimony will prove otherwise.
“Even the patients who didn't suffer lasting injuries or death, can you imagine at that age the horror and the humiliation of being in this warehouse for five days, lying on a mattress on the floor in water without adequate bathrooms, without adequate medical attention, without adequate food,” Bart said.
Dean’s civil legal troubles aren’t confined to New Orleans. Patients and their families have in additional lawsuits in Jefferson and Tangipahoa Parish.
“He's got to be held accountable financially and every other which way, including criminally,” Bart said, “for his outrageous conduct. That's justice.”