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Wrongful death lawsuit, 9 others filed over putrid Independence warehouse conditions

The suit, filed by the children of Ella Gould, is one of 10 WWL-TV has found related to the warehouse.

INDEPENDENCE, La. — The latest lawsuit filed against the owner of a putrid warehouse where 843 residents were rescued after Hurricane Ida is a wrongful death suit on behalf of the resident's children; they claim her death was a direct result of the poor care she received there. 

The suit, filed by the children of Ella Gould, is one of 10 WWL-TV has found related to the warehouse.

Eight of those are class-action suits filed on behalf of multiple families seeking damages for the suffering of their loved ones.

Gould's is one of two personal lawsuits filed against Bob Dean, the real estate developer who owned the warehouse and the seven nursing homes where hundreds of residents were evacuated from. 

Gould is also one of the first to be publicly identified as one of the victims who died as a result of the conditions in the warehouse, which surviving residents say were inhumane. 

The lawsuit claims that although Dean's nursing homes followed the letter of the law — submitting evacuation plans every year — the plans "failed to comply with even the most rudimentary of sanitary and medical care or forethought." 

If you have a loved one who was at this facility or worked there yourself, we would like to talk with you. Email cmccrory@wwltv.com or text 504-641-3471. 

Gould's children contend that an average person could tell the plans were inadequate for more than 840 people, and that the trained medical professionals involved in designing them should have known they were deficient. 

They also named the Louisiana Department of Health in the lawsuit, alleging that the state failed to monitor the situation and prevent the tragedy. 

"Specifically, the LDH knew or should have known that defendant Bob Dean Jr. intended to move the nursing home residents to woefully inadequate facilities .... in the event of a hurricane," the lawsuit reads. 

LDH admitted inspectors were able to survey the site before Hurricane Ida and state records say they were satisfied with the facility. 

That facility, reportedly a repurposed pesticide manufacturing plant bought by Dean, had hundreds of mattresses on the floor and a handful of toilets and showers. 

"A reasonably prudent person would determine that the warehouse could not act as an emergency evacuation center for seven nursing homes containing more than 800 elderly residents," the lawsuit contends. 

The LDH inspector wrote that the facility had enough resources to sustain 700 patients for up to a week. 

All seven nursing homes have had their licenses revoked in the aftermath of the deadly warehouse evacuation. 

Five deaths have been attributed to the storm, and 10 more have not been classified as storm-related. It's unclear if Gould's death, reportedly of a heart attack in the ambulance taking her away from the facility on Sept. 2, was classified as storm-related.

If you are still searching for a loved one who was rescued from the Independence warehouse, WWL-TV would like to talk with you about the situation and provide any resources available to help you find them. Contact us by emailing cmccrory@wwltv.com or send a text message to 504-641-3471.

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