Daughter of Hollywood nursing home residents files lawsuit

Lawsuit claims negligence by Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Glenna Milberg - Reporter

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - The daughter of a man who died at a Hollywood nursing home after Hurricane Irma has filed a lawsuit against the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

Margarita Navarro is suing the facility, claiming negligence that led to the wrongful deaths of Miguel Antonio Franco, 93, and 10 others after the air conditioning stopped working in the days after the storm.

Navarro's family joined her attorneys Monday at a news conference in Coral Gables announcing the lawsuit.

"Something as similar as calling 911, or better yet, walking across the street where there was a hospital could have been done," Franco's granddaughter, Erika Navarro, said. 

According to the lawsuit, the facility failed to secure "reliable and effective air-conditioning systems to operate in the event of an inevitable and foreseeable power outage," leaving the elderly residents to suffer for days "in extreme heat and deplorable conditions."

Navarro's mother, Cecilia Franco, 90, remains hospitalized.

"According to what I saw, there was no calls saying that there was any patients in distress," the Franco's son, Pedro Franco, said. "So I don't know what happened after that. But what I saw, none of those calls stated that there was an emergency."  

The Agency for Health Care Administration has suspended the license of the facility. 

Margarita Navarro (right) and her daughter, Erica Navarro, speak to reporters during a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

According to the suspension order, residents at the facility had body temperatures of more than 100 degrees when they arrived at Memorial Regional Hospital, across the street from the nursing home.

Justin Senior, secretary for the state agency, wrote in the order that the facility also made many "late entries" into patients' medical records, claiming that the entries were made "under dubious circumstances" hours after a nurse visited the patients.

Nursing home administrator Jorge Carballo blamed the incident on "a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility's air-conditioning system as a result of the hurricane."

The lawsuit is the fourth brought against the nursing home.

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