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Embattled nursing home owner Bob Dean may soon lose control of his affairs



Former Louisiana nursing home magnate Bob Dean could be stripped of control of his affairs in a pending court case in Georgia.

The move could sideline Dean while attorneys consider a proposed class-action lawsuit agreement to evacuate seven southern Louisiana nursing homes to a warehouse in the community of Tangipahoa, where conditions were rapidly deteriorating and his patients languished for days.

It would not affect Dean’s need to respond to criminal complaints he faces in both Louisiana and Oregon, a Georgia legal expert said.

Attorney H. Minor Pipes III, who is representing Dean in the evacuation-related claims, told plaintiffs’ attorneys that Dean was “barred,” one of those attorneys told a judge in court Tuesday.

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Pipes declined to comment afterward, saying he was not Dean’s attorney in the lawsuit and had not seen a court order. A probate court clerk in Fulton County, Georgia, said information about the case would remain classified pending a final decision. Dean’s attorney in Georgia, where he is charged with an incident in which he shot his own thumb and a felony count of disability, declined to comment.

Dean, 68, managed to avoid sitting because of the ill-fated evacuation that forced patients to sit in the dirt, while Dean ignored pleas from staff for help and intimidated state health inspectors who tried to intervene , as records show.

His lawyers have fought to keep it that way and presented evidence that Dean has dementia.

In Louisiana in June, Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office indicted Dean on eight counts of patient cruelty, five counts of Medicaid fraud, and two counts of obstruction of justice.

Dean’s seven nursing homes all remain closed after being confiscated by lenders. After state health officials revoked his licenses to operate shortly after the evacuation, Dean quickly fell behind with a mountain of debt, court records show.

In Georgia, judges can appoint a guardian or conservator if they determine that an adult is “unable to make or communicate important decisions of responsibility relating to the management of his or her property”.

Mary Radford, a law professor emeritus at Georgia State University who authored a textbook on guardianship and guardianship in Georgia, said the law means “the adult loses his right to bring an action or defend himself in court,” with exception of guardianship.

“He will also lose the right to enter into contracts, which means he will not be able to settle claims,” ​​Radford said.

A conservator would take Dean’s place in the civil suits, but criminal court judges make their own demands about whether the defendants have standing to stand trial, Radford said.

“The mere fact that he has become a ward does not mean that these measures cannot apply to him,” Radford said. “There will be a court case. He may not participate in the same way.”

Radford noted that probate judges can also limit a conservator’s powers, allowing the station some agency.

Monica Hof Wallace, a law professor at Loyola University, said a Georgia decision to place Dean under a conservatory would not prevent judges in Louisiana’s civil courts from making their own decisions about his ability to sit for testimony.

“The judge decides,” she said.

Suzette Bagneris, an attorney for several plaintiffs suing Dean over the evacuation, raised the specter of long delays by a ban Tuesday as she campaigned for the speedy approval of a proposed settlement to cover any evacuated residents or their family members.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs began Tuesday on the proposed settlement, which is priced at $13 million to $15 million. That money, to be paid out by Dean’s insurance companies, could average about $13,000 per patient after legal fees under the proposed deal.

More than a dozen residents died after the evacuations, although coroners classified only five as “storm-related.” Bagneris claimed Tuesday that at least 100 and possibly as many as 200 former residents of Dean have since died.

Attorney Rob Couhig, who is leading the attempt at a settlement, argued it was a waste of time for those who suffered at the warehouse. Couhig said few other Dean assets have surfaced to back up the amount.

“We found all the insurance there is,” Couhig said. “Many of these people will continue to die. Many of these people are becoming increasingly frail.”

However, Morris Bart, whose law firm represents dozens of Dean’s former patients or their families, has objected to the proposed settlement, along with several other attorneys who claim they were caught unawares.

They argue that Couhig and others are trying to push through a deal that may not be in the best interests of the plaintiffs, leaving Dean out of financial trouble.

Bart claimed Tuesday he found nearly $8 million in equity on Dean’s other properties, which the settlement ignores. He asked District Judge Michael Mentz for more time to work it out.

“How am I going to tell 180 clients that despite the misery and death he caused, Bob Dean is walking away from it, not paying a dollar, and continuing to live in his mansion?” Bart said. “It’s so patently unfair.”

Mentz postponed a hearing to discuss the proposed settlement until November 2.