Fight not over for Brooklyn senior residents

Spectators crowded the gallery for the well-attended motion for preliminary injunction and oral argument motion hearing. Many notified by email from Councilman Brad Lander's office. Court sketch by Alba Acevedo

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Residents at a Park Slope senior home are able to remain a while longer thanks to the extension of a previously-issued temporary restraining order (TRO). Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Wayne Saitta issued the extension from the bench last week, giving some hope to the residents that they will be — albeit temporarily — cared for in the Park Slope facility they call home.

Prospect Park Residence (PPR), an assisted living facility, is slated to close this month but lawyers for the residents have been fighting against the shuttering arguing that the closure plan does not protect the health of the elderly residents. The TRO extended by Saitta is only a small victory in a long legal fight ahead.  

“We are challenging the closure plan,” said Jason Johnson, Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto.

In the interim, the TRO is “to ensure that Prospect Park Residence, its owners, and its administrators are complying with their contractual obligations as well as their obligations under the law.”

In May, seven PPR residents filed a lawsuit, charging that the Department of Health and PPR acted in error in the approval of a closure plan and that the decision to close the facility was done without adequate due process. One step in this fight is to ensure that PPR continues to care for the residents currently at the facility.

According to the suit, many PPR residents are older than the age of 80 and have disabilities that require one or more persons to assist with walking, eating and relieving bodily functions. With the closure plan approved by the Department of Health, residents and their attorneys argue that the basic level of care and assistance is no longer being provided. 

PPR has the obligation to “insure that services continue to be provided while residents are still in the building,” the Legal Aid Society and Brooklyn Councilmember Brad Lander said in a joint press release.  

While a temporary restraining order has been put in place to maintain a baseline services, the plaintiffs are seeking a more permanent solution — first in the form of permanent injunction to the eviction of tenants and second in challenge of the closure plan itself.

“The injunction does not affect the sale,” said Johnson, co-counsel for the PPR residents. “This is just to make sure that everyone is complying with obligations.” 

At present, “[PPR] plaintiffs are not being bathed on a routine basis.”  Rooms are “unsanitary” due to “diminished housekeeping” and some aides are not being paid, the suit maintains.

PPR residents, via their attorneys, are scheduled back in court this week to show the factual support behind the push for a permanent injunction. 

“It is worth the battle,” Johnson maintains.

Attorneys for Haysha Dietsch were silent on the status of the ongoing case.

June 17, 2014 - 8:30am



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