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Plaintiffs win class motion lawsuit in opposition to Bob Dean over Hurricane Ida nursing residence evacuations

Prematurely of the Hurricane Ida, 843 nursing residence residents from Orleans, Jefferson, Lafourche, and Terrebonne parishes have been packed right into a warehouse in Independence.

NEW ORLEANS — After listening to dueling authorized arguments from high-powered native plaintiffs’ attorneys, a Jefferson Parish choose dominated Monday in favor of a class-action settlement in opposition to nursing residence proprietor Bob Dean stemming from his ill-fated evacuation of 843 of his sufferers throughout Hurricane Ida.

Choose Michael Mentz accredited the settlement that will divvy up Dean’s insurance coverage protection – about $15 million – with 22.5 p.c of that masking authorized charges for Couhig Companions, LLC, the legislation agency that pushed for the fast decision.

Early estimates peg the quantity going to particular person plaintiffs at lower than $10,000 every, though the quantities can be larger or decrease relying on hardships suffered by every affected person.

A number of sufferers died and others needed to be hospitalized after they have been rescued by state officers from Dean’s warehouse in Tangipahoa. WWL-TV was the primary to report on the unsanitary situations on the shelter, together with lack of meals, water and toilet services.

The settlement settlement was removed from unanimous, with different attorneys led by well-known accident lawyer Morris Bart objecting, saying the settlement lets Dean personally off the hook. Nevertheless, Couhig Companions, LLC, which negotiated the settlement mentioned time is of the essence for the getting old plaintiffs.

Don Massey, of the Couhig agency, applauded the choose’s ruling to go ahead with the settlement.

“We’re happy that the choose took into consideration the necessary details of our shoppers’ age and the way a lot they already suffered and the necessity to give people some closure,” Massey mentioned after the listening to. “We’re happy that the choose acknowledged the plain, that Mr. Dean now not has any property, he is beneath prison prosecution, he is beneath a guardianship.”

However different attorneys with lawsuits imagine that Dean has not totally disclosed all of his property, which had included every thing from an vintage automobile assortment to a number of homes throughout the nation.

Properly-known New Orleans accident lawyer Morris Bart, who represents greater than 100 plaintiffs, was amongst those that unsuccessfully argued to spend extra time investigating Dean’s property.

“This class-action settlement may be very unfair,” Bart mentioned outdoors of the courthouse. “We have now fought for our shoppers and regardless of the choose’s ruling at the moment, we’re going to proceed to combat for our shoppers to get them the compensation they deserve for this horrible travesty that they’ve been via.”

Bart mentioned his agency will attraction Mentz’s ruling.

“We’ll one hundred pc attraction this,” he mentioned. “This judgment permits Bob Dean to stroll away with out paying one greenback for his actions. Not one greenback for what he did. We expect that is unfair. We offered proof that Bob Dean is price $15 to $20 million {dollars} and proper now at the moment he continues to reside as a king in his property in Georgia.

Mentz acknowledged the completely different positions taken by the attorneys, however mentioned that after hearings final week, he was not satisfied that Dean’s property exceeded the quantity of his money owed.

“Day-after-day that the settlement is delayed, the quantity of debt in opposition to Mr. Dean continues to develop,” Mentz mentioned in his ruling from the bench. “And on daily basis, extra plaintiffs die.”

Ultimately, Mentz mentioned he was confronted with a “lose, lose, lose state of affairs” by which Dean has misplaced his nursing residence empire whereas his sufferers and their households suffered vastly through the storm and, because of Dean’s crumbling fortunes, “ they misplaced the flexibility to be totally compensated.”

Dean, who lives in Georgia, nonetheless faces felony prison expenses in Louisiana, together with cruelty to the infirm and Medicaid fraud.

RELATED: Hurricane Ida 1 yr later: Households combating authorized battles after nursing residence residents rode out storm in warehouse

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