Elder abuse and wrongful death lawsuit filed against Bakersfield senior rehabilitation facility


An elder abuse and wrongful death lawsuit was filed Thursday against a local senior rehabilitation center and others.

The whole incident began when last year a veteran and retired teacher fell, fracturing his hip.

Less than a year later, the man was dead.

John Paul Owens, known as Paul to most, was married to Carol Owens for 57 years. 

A grandfather, a veteran, and a longtime teacher, Paul loved cross country running and working with his hands.

In February 2017, in retirement and suffering from Alzheimers, Paul fell, breaking his hip according to Carol’s lawsuit. 

“I had been able to take care of him at home, he wasn’t really bad that way he was getting worse and then the fall just did him in,” Carol told 17 News.

After being treated at a hospital Paul was released to Brookdale Riverwalk, a senior rehabilitation living facility. 

“So he could walk again, take care of himself again, so he could go back home and live with his wife of 57 years, that was the goal,” explained Matt Clark of Chain Cohn Stiles law firm.

But that didn’t happen, according to the complaint. 

The lawsuit alleges Brookdale failed to adequately attend to Wwens, resulting in two large bed sores. 

“While he was [at Brookdale] for 34 or 35 days, [they] bathed him at most four times,” said Clark.

But then Carol says a man named Wade Budney, of “A Helping Hand Senior Care Services,” told her Paul had to be moved due to his insurance.

“He said this Medicare is running low, he’s gonna have to be transferred to an assisted living facility,” recalled Carol.

The lawsuit says Paul couldn’t handle that.

“Budney puts [Owens] in his personal vehicle, this is a guy with two stage three pressure ulcers, a urinary catheter, a broken leg, hasn’t had rehab yet,” said Clark.

“I was told if he wasn’t transferred that Wade would call and report me for elder abuse,” added Carol.

Paul was moved to Silvercrest Manor, an assisted living home in east Bakersfield, where he stayed for a week, before having to go to Memorial Hospital. 

Months after the ordeal, Paul died in January.

“The main reason I’m doing this is I don’t want other people to have to go through this with loved ones, that’s the whole goal.” said Carol.

In a statement to 17 news, Brookdale Senior Living public relations said Brookdale does not comment on pending litigation, adding “safety and security of our residents is our top priority.”

We called, sent emails, and left messages for Wade Budney for response to the complaint, but did not hear back. 

We left messages and our card for managers at Silvercrest, but did not hear back.

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