Seven elderly residents of the Prospect Park Residence, a 120-bed assisted-living facility in Brooklyn, New York, filed a lawsuit in May 2014 to prevent the facility from shutting its doors in June 2014. The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, is seeking a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order to delay the facility’s closing. The lawsuit claims that the owner of the facility, Haysha Deitsch, and the Department of Health did not give the residents adequate time to move and are not helping them find new places to live. The suit further alleges that the owner mislead them by accepting new residents while he was talking to the Department of Health about shutting the site down. In addition, the residents are complaining that the facility is cutting back on essential services and that many of the staff members are leaving. Families of some residents stated that they plan to file a separate lawsuit seeking damages.
On March 5, 2014, managers told the residents that the facility is closing and that they have 90 days to move. However, family members of residents suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease said that they haven’t been offered any help to find new residences for their loved ones. In addition, family members pointed out that moving, especially on such a short notice, is stressful for seniors suffering from illnesses. One family member stated, “Any move will be extremely traumatic for my mother and will sever her ties to important services and support groups. We have not been able to find an alternative residence for her.”
Paul Larrabee, a spokesperson for the owner, stated that the building is becoming too costly to run and maintain. He said, “Despite concerns to the contrary, the closure plan and the transfer of residents to alternate living arrangements has been compliant and seamless. Any claims of deception or fraud are without merit and we will vigorously defend our actions.”
The closure has attracted the attention of elected officials and the Attorney General’s office, which met with family members of several of the residents. Brad Lander, a city councilman, stated, “This is a moral indictment of a society that would let something like this happen. They moved people in well after they filed their closure plan with the state, and that’s a galling act of deception, that you would represent to people that they could age in place while you were planning to evict them.”
Aurore DeCarlo, a representative for the Brooklyn Office for the Aging, said that the Department of Health has failed to “provide any meaningful oversight to ensure compliance with minimal requirements of the closure process.” The representative claimed that the closure is causing the “departure of essential health aides and the reduction of necessary services.”
The owner of the facility would not confirm reports that the building is being sold to a real estate developer who will convert the site into luxury apartments.
Residents Sue to Halt Closing of Brooklyn Assisted-Living Home, NY Times, Vivian Yee, May 2, 2014