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HomeNewsCity NewsCOVID-19 Negligence Charges Dropped Against Irvine-Based Senior Living Company

COVID-19 Negligence Charges Dropped Against Irvine-Based Senior Living Company

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A Los Angeles superior court judge dismissed COVID-19-related criminal charges against management at Silverado Senior Living Management Inc., an Irvine-based assisted living company, regarding 14 deaths and over 100 infections at the facility in 2020 on Oct. 27. 

A Los Angeles District Attorney (LADA) press release announced an investigation into COVID-19-related deaths and infections at a Silverado facility in Los Angeles County in a criminal case against the company and its CEO Loren Shook, Senior Vice President Kim Butrum and administrator Jason Russo on March 14, 2023. The company and management were charged with 13 felony counts of elder endangerment and five felony counts of violation causing death. Silverado Senior Living operates 28 US locations and specializes in the memory-centric care of elderly patients with dementia, according to their website. However, these charges have recently been dismissed.

“We are obviously very disappointed at the court’s ruling,” the LADA said in a statement according to CBS News. “Our belief in the strength of the case has not changed.”

The deaths and infections occurred at the Silverado Beverly Place facility in Los Angeles from March to May 2020. The details of the case surround the admittance of a patient from New York to the Silverado facility in March 2020 without following proper health protocols, which allegedly led to a fatal COVID-19 outbreak. 

This same incident was discussed in the civil case Ringo v. Silverado Senior Living Inc., which was filed in 2020 by the family of 32-year-old vocational nurse Brittany Ringo; she passed away from COVID-19 while working at Silverado Beverly Place. Ringo was allegedly directed by management to admit the New York patient on March 19, 2020, despite a COVID-19 outbreak in New York and the Silverado facility’s lockdown. The patient tested positive for COVID-19 that same evening, and Ringo died on April 20, 2020, following the alleged exposure.

Prosecutors claimed that Silverado management violated COVID-19 protocols by admitting the patient. The California Department of Public Health required the facility to “prohibit entry of individuals who had engaged in domestic or international travel within the last 14 days to areas where COVID cases have been confirmed,” according to the LADA press release.

Silverado management alleged that the patient exhibited no symptoms upon arrival. In an exclusive interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ringo’s mother Kim Bruner-Ringo disputed these claims. She stated that her daughter informed her that the patient arrived at the Silverado facility with a cough and a 102 to 103-degree fever. The patient’s temperature was eventually entered in records as 96.5 degrees. Bruner-Ringo emphasized that Ringo believed that the patient was likely admitted due to his status as a prominent physician.

The lawsuit Ringo v. Silverado Senior Living Inc. is ongoing. It remains unknown why the criminal case was dismissed, as ruling briefs have not yet been made public record. 

Silverado Senior Living Management CEO Shook recently supported the dismissing of the criminal charges.

“A win here isn’t just a win for Silverado, it’s a win for senior housing operators,” Shook said in an interview with Senior Housing News. “The fact that we were exonerated so clearly, and relatively early on in the legal process by a judge, is a great win.”

In an interview with the New University, UCI Public Health Professor Andrew Noymer emphasized the necessity of quarantining those potentially exposed and described the social context of COVID-19 today.

“If accepting a patient from New York during that time, I would’ve quarantined that patient and had staff use PPE or not accept them at all,” Noymer said. “A lot of people, including the judge, however, may have felt that they didn’t want to relitigate the COVID pandemic forever because many feel that the pandemic is now over.”

Karen Wang is a City News Intern for the fall 2023 quarter. She can be reached at karenw14@uci.edu