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Wrongful-death lawsuit filed against Costa Mesa nursing facility

The family of a man who died in a Costa Mesa skilled nursing facility has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit alleging elder abuse, negligence and neglectful hiring and supervision.

The suit, filed Feb. 9 in Orange County Superior Court, asserts that the Mesa Verde Post Acute Care Center, 661 Center St., failed in its care of Sebastian Lopez, 78, who died at the facility in July after being after being discharged there from Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach.

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According to the lawsuit, when Lopez arrived at the center in mid-June, he was suffering from diabetes, pneumonia, congenital heart failure and hypertension. As such, his attorneys contend, he was at high risk of falling and required specialized 24-hour care.

On July 5, about two weeks into his stay, Lopez's daughter visited him and, in addition to learning he had fallen, saw that his bed was "so low to the ground that she almost fell to the floor herself when she went to sit down on the bed," the lawsuit states.

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Lopez, the suit alleges, had told his wife that day that a nurse "got mad at him, told him that he could not get up on his own without help and then threw him back into bed, without performing any meaningful assessments, without notifying the family, responsible party or physician ... and simply left him in bed to suffer the painful consequences of his fall."

In addition, Mesa Verde staffers "attempted to conjure up a story to fraudulently conceal their misconduct" and did not document the incident on Lopez's medical chart, according to the allegations.

The next day, as a result of the fall and subsequent negligent care, Lopez, his family contends, did not receive proper medication and died, despite resuscitation attempts at Mesa Verde and at Hoag.

"The facility was well aware that Sebastian required a very particular and required level of care than they would or could provide," Stephen Garcia, Lopez's attorney from Long Beach-based Garcia, Artigliere and Medby, said in a statement. "Disregarding this obligation, the facility took the money, accepted the known responsibility for him and then failed miserably to provide Sebastian his required care that needlessly resulted in his death."

Mesa Verde Post Acute Care Center could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

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