Owner of nursing home where 8 died in Hurricane Irma had history of fraud allegations including $15.4 mill settlement

The owner of the nursing home where eight patients died after the air conditioner stopped working during hurricane Irma, had a history of fraud charges including a False Claims Act case which was settled in 2006 for $15.4 million. In that case Dr. Jack Michel and five others were alleged to have agreed to send patients to his Miami hospital, Larkin Community, for unnecessary treatment according to The Department of Justice. DOJ said that Michel received kickbacks as part of the deal and some of the patients came from assisted living facilities he owned.

The facility where the eight patients died also had a poor records and an inspection rating much below average before Hurricane Irma. The building was said to be in disrepair and it was fined $5500.

On September 10, this year, during Hurricane Irma, according to state regulators the Rehab Center at Hollywood Hills became aware that its air conditioning equipment had stopped operating. Between 1:30 am and 5 am, several residents suffered respiratory arrest or cardiac distress. Health Department spokesman reported that as late as 7:30 am, the nursing home reported that they had partial power and that the generator was operational. Rescue workers found eight patients had died, allegedly as a result of dehydration and scorching heat levels. There was a hospital three minutes away.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.