Steele v. Extendicare Health Services, Inc. et al
We successfully represented Extendicare and several affiliated companies in a series of class action lawsuits in Washington Minnesota and Wisconsin regarding, among other allegations, misrepresentation of the standard of care provided to residents. Extendicare is one of North America’s largest long term care providers. Several former residents brought class action consumer claims against Extendicare in Washington alleging, among other things, that Extendicare violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act by engaging in a corporate-wide advertising program that misrepresented the standard of care provided to residents. Plaintiffs purported to represent classes which comprised of all residents of Extendicare facilities in the State of Washington from August 2004 through August 2008. Shortly after the Washington suit was filed, virtually identical lawsuits were filed in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We were successful in securing motions for summary judgment and motions to dismiss in all three cases. The opinions of the Washington and Minnesota federal courts dismissing plaintiffs’ claims have since been published. These opinions will likely prove helpful for the long term care industry in defending against similar claims in the future. At the core of plaintiffs’ complaints was the premise that regulatory violations — a common occurrence in the industry — constitute misrepresentations because long term care providers often promise to comply with all relevant state and federal laws. If this premise had been successful, widespread consumer class claims would have been available to plaintiffs based on long term care providers’ regulatory violations. Instead, the courts found that blanket statements of compliance with the law do not serve as the basis for misrepresentation claims.