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GranCare Asks Court to Disqualify Garcia, Artigliere & Medby Firm Over Conflict

LONG BEACH, Calif., Jan. 08, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- GranCare, LLC has filed a motion in federal court seeking to disqualify The Garcia, Artigliere & Medby Law Firm from a lawsuit it filed against the provider of healthcare services because one of the Garcia Law Firm’s attorneys was in possession of material and confidential information related to the lawsuit through his prior representation of GranCare, LLC.

According to the complaint, “From July 8, 2013 to August 4, 2015, Anup Mehta was an associate attorney at the Giovanniello Law Group, a closely-knit 10-12 attorney firm, which represents GranCare, LLC.

The motion to disqualify alleges, “That shortly after leaving the employment of the Giovanniello Law Group, Anup Mehta joined the Garcia Law Firm as an associate attorney. On September 14, 2015, the Garcia Law Firm filed suit against the Mariner Defendants. While employed at the Giovanniello Law Group, Mehta worked directly in assisting in the defense of several nursing home negligence cases against GranCare that are very similar to this case. All told, Mehta billed 149.6 hours on five GranCare matters. One such claim was Rhodes v. GranCare, LLC et al., Case No. BC533678 (Cal. Super. Ct. for Los Angeles County), which the Giovanniello Law Group continues to represent GranCare’s interests to date. “

The complaint alleges that “Significantly, while employed with the Giovanniello Law Group, Mehta worked directly and extensively on the Rhodes litigation, which involves issues that are strikingly similar to the disputes in this case. Similar to the Garcia Law Firm’s action against GranCare, Rhodes involves claims for elder abuse, violations of the California Health and Safety Code §1430(b), and negligence based on purportedly deficient care that GranCare rendered to the plaintiff. Like this case, Rhodes involves factual allegations that GranCare’s allegedly deficient care of the resident was due to understaffing, undertraining of facility staff, and under-budgeting of the GranCare facility.”

“As an associate attorney with the Giovanniello Law Group, Mehta billed 127 hours assisting in the defense of GranCare in the Rhodes case. Mehta played a significant role in enforcing GranCare’s arbitration agreements in Rhodes that are similar to the arbitration agreements that GranCare seeks to enforce in this action,” states the complaint. “Among other things, Mehta conducted research to develop a legal strategy for successfully compelling arbitration on behalf of GranCare. Mehta implemented those strategies in drafting GranCare’s Petition to Compel Arbitration. In addition, Mehta crafted arguments in response to the plaintiff’s opposition, which he used in drafting GranCare’s reply brief. Finally, Mehta argued GranCare’s Petition to Compel Arbitration in court, obtaining a favorable ruling as reflected in the July 25, 2014 “Notice of Ruling.”

The complaint further states, “In Rhodes, Mehta performed additional work, which gave him access to confidential information about GranCare. In March and May 2014, Mehta drafted client progress reports in which he analyzed claims against GranCare, outlined potential defenses, and addressed GranCare’s potential liability exposure. Mehta also prepared GranCare’s responses to interrogatories, document requests and requests for admissions. In addition, Mehta evaluated the plaintiff’s responses to GranCare’s discovery requests, assessed the records of a third-party provider, drafted a stipulation and order for confidentiality of protected information disclosed in discovery, and appeared at the case management conference.”

The motion to disqualify further alleges, “In addition to the Rhodes case, Mehta billed 22.6 hours assisting in the defense of four other nursing home negligence lawsuits against GranCare while he was an attorney at the Giovanniello Law Group. In each case, like the Garcia Law Firm’s action against GranCare here, the plaintiffs alleged professional/nursing home negligence due to the purported understaffing, undertraining of staff, and under-budgeting of the GranCare facility at issue.

The Garcia Law Firm’s representation of Plaintiffs’ lawsuit against GranCare involves similar allegations that GranCare failed to prevent Ruth Thrower from suffering a fall that purportedly injured her hip and eventually caused her death. In Pierre v. Santa Monica Healthcare et al Mehta billed 6.7 hours in assessing California Department of Public Health surveys regarding the provision of resident care, which likely will be a significant issue in this case as well because Plaintiffs allege that GranCare knew that Ms. Thrower would receive deficient care purportedly based on prior deficiencies that the California Department of Public Health had issued to the facility.”

As detailed in court papers, “In Root v. GranCare LLC et al., Case No. C13-02198 (Cal. Super. Ct. for Contra Costa County), Plaintiffs alleged claims for negligence; elder abuse and breach of contract based on allegations that GranCare failed to prevent a fall that injured the plaintiff. The factual issues in Root are nearly identical to this case, in which Plaintiffs likewise allege that GranCare failed to prevent Ms. Thrower from suffering a fall that injured her. Mehta billed 1.8 hours preparing for and appearing at a case management conference in Root. During his two years at the Giovanniello Law Group, Mehta participated in many discussions and meetings in which material confidential information regarding GranCare was imparted to him. During these conversations and meetings, Mehta was made privy to client confidences, including but not limited to, GranCare’s unique approach to handling mediations; how the Giovanniello Law Group worked with GranCare to investigate and evaluate claims; GranCare’s litigation strategies, philosophies, practices and techniques; specific information regarding GranCare’s internal operations and management; and, GranCare’s approach related to arbitration.”

Finally, the complaint states that “The unique litigation strategy of the Mariner Defendants that was imparted to Mehta while employed by Giovanniello Law Group continues to be the same litigation strategy employed by the Mariner Defendants today.”

In 2012, the Garcia Law Firm and Stephen M. Garcia were sued by Goldstar Healthcare Center of Santa Monica, LLC. “The complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleged, among other things, that the firm used “tactics”, including, but not limited to “using the U.S. mail and telephone system to make demands that they know are unwarranted and illegal, threatening actions they know they have no legal basis for taking, refusing to take actions which they are required to take under the law (only relenting after their target is forced to resort to the courts and incur the associated legal expense) and using the discovery process solely as a method of furthering their harassment in the future,” said Eric W. Rose, representative for GranCare. Remy Rhodes, Administrator of GranCare, LLC doing business as Vale Healthcare Center confirms that GranCare and Goldstar are not affiliated.

Copies of both complaints are public documents available upon request.

Contact: Eric W. Rose (805) 624-0572 or eric@ekapr.com

Source:GranCare LLC