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Hurricane Ida 1 year later: Families fighting legal battles after nursing home residents rode out storm in warehouse

Four died inside and about a dozen died in the following days and weeks, at least five deaths were a direct result of the conditions inside, the LDH reported.

NEW ORLEANS — This time last year, more than 800 nursing home residents were inside a warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish riding out the storm. Four days later, WWL-TV broke the news that multiple of those residents had died as conditions went from bad to horrific.

843 nursing home residents from Orleans, Jefferson, Lafourche, and Terrebonne parishes were packed into a warehouse in Independence. Water leaked in, mattresses were piled on top of each other, and the pictures show the suffering. 

Four died inside and about a dozen died in the following days and weeks, at least five deaths were a direct result of the conditions inside, the Louisiana Department of Health reported.

"I was like, she can't be telling me the truth, this is not real. I said wait a minute, this is not real," said Angela Turner, who remembers learning of the warehouse evacuation. 

Her 75 year old mother Diana Picquet was on dialysis. Hoping to leave her in better hands during the storm, Turner took her mother to River Palms Nursing and Rehab.

"They made all these promises to me that they was going to take care of my mother," she said. 

Then she saw the news.

"When my son showed me that on the phone, I began to just cry, I had tears in my eyes. I was like no. I would have never did this to my mama, I swear to you," she said. 

She couldn't track her down for weeks until her mother called from a nurses phone. She was taken from the warehouse to Opelousas.

"I said, ‘I'm catching a Greyhound bus.’ I planned to go out there Friday. They called me Thursday. They said, 'Angela, your mama died. She had cardiac arrest," Turner said in tears.

The owner of the seven nursing homes involved, Bob Dean, is now banned from receiving any federal funding, including Medicare and the state shut down all of his nursing homes.

"This Mr. Bob Dean... not one time he got on TV to apologize to no one. Not one time," Turner said. 

In June, Dean was arrested on several charges including felony counts of cruelty to persons with infirmities, Medicaid fraud, and obstruction of justice.

"I forgive him. I do. I really do because God says I have to forgive, but not one time he said he's sorry," Turner said. 

Turner said she's working with attorney Morris Bart who is representing 170 residents to sue Dean.

"But you know what, that money don’t mean nothing to me. That money is blood money," Turner said. 

Last week, attorneys for more patients and families announced a settlement in several lawsuits filed against the nursing homes and Dean. It includes a payout of nearly $18,000 for each patient in the lawsuit. A judge will decide whether to approve it in October. Bart on the other hand is not ready to sign on to a settlement until he knows Dean doesn't have hidden assets.

"It's just more about getting justice and for him to admit, at least admit it, say you're sorry," Turner said. 

Currently, Dean is out on bond with conditions including electronic monitoring and remaining in Georgia where he lives unless traveling to Louisiana for court appearances. 


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