Park Slope

Prospect Park Residence fights attachment orders in separate cases

Park Slope senior facility besieged by lawsuits

August 17, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
John O’Hara, attorney for the families suing the Prospect Park Residence. Photo courtesy of John O'Hara

The Appellate Division Second Department on Thursday granted a temporary restraining order staying enforcement of a $5 million dollar order of attachment to the Prospect Park Residence in Park Slope.

State Supreme Court Justice Arthur M. Schack issued the original order of attachment on August 3.

The facility’s owner, Haysha Deitsch, is seeking to sell the troubled senior assisted living facility, which has been much in the news over the past year, for $76.5 million. If the order of attachment remains in effect, $5 million of this amount would be set aside for potential future legal judgements.

Deitsch isn’t free of attachment worries, however. Another Brooklyn judge, state Supreme Court Justice Bernard J. Graham, granted a second order of attachment on Thursday in a related case.

Deitsch could be hit with financial penalties in cases linked to the deaths of numerous former patients who died while confined to the senior facility.

John O’Hara, attorney for the families suing the home, wrote in court papers that Deitsch “has conducted himself as the owner of an unlicensed nursing home in a way that has been reckless resulting in numerous deaths, as this office represents the families of eight other former patients that were confined to an unlicensed dementia unit and died due to improper medical care.”

O’Hara told the court that his request for the order was based on evidence of “the defendant’s intent to defraud his creditors and frustrate the enforcement of any judgement.”

After Justice Saitta appointed a receiver to operate the facility in April, Dietsch’s attorney Joel Drucker told the judge that one corporate entity owns the facility’s valuable real estate, while another entity operated the home. Drucker maintains that the two entities have nothing to do with each other, and that the operator has no funds.

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But in documents related to the facility’s pending sale, Deitsch signed as both the owner and tenant/manager.

In granting the order of attachment, Justice Schack ruled that “the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits.”

However, Deitsch’s attorney Joel Drucker told the Brooklyn Eagle on Thursday that O’Hara’s court papers “really don’t include hard, medical evidence, just allegations” of improper medical care.

In addition, O’Hara would have to show that without the order of attachment the party being sued – Deitsch — would be unable to satisfy a judgement by, for example, moving out of state and taking the assets.

“This building isn’t going anywhere,” Drucker said.

He added, “We’re fairly confidant that when the Appellate Division reads all the papers they’ll grant a stay on the attachment order and ultimately reverse it because there’s no legal basis for it.”

DOH cited for lack of oversite

O’Hara recently won a $750,000 settlement for the family of retired Civil Court Judge John L. Phillips, Brooklyn’s famous “Kung Fu Judge,” who died while confined to the facility.

Deitsch has been trying to empty the building prior to its sale. In July, seven current residents were handed a victory in court as Justice Saitta denied a motion made by Deitsch and the state Department of Health (DOH) to dismiss their many complaints about the lack of heat, air conditioning, proper food and medical care.

Conditions at the once-desirable residence, across the street from Prospect Park, have been cited as illustrating a shocking dysfunction of the state’s oversight of the nursing home industry.

Families and friends of the seniors say that DOH rubberstamped Deitsch’s closure plan, which advocates say falls far short of the legal requirements. These requirements include assessing the seniors’ needs and preferences for alternate facilities, assisting them in transferring to appropriate facilities, and continuing to provide required services until the closure. None of these steps were included in the closure plan.

DOH also allowed Deitsch to continue to sign up new residents and take deposits without informing them that closure was imminent.

In 2009 DOH determined that Deitsch was operating the home without a license. Yet the facility remained in operation despite the death of numerous residents, including Judge Phillips.

 

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