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A Long Beach attorney has sued a national nursing home corporation, which owns three Inland area facilities, claiming residents did not receive adequate care as they were promised.

Stephen Garcia said Friday that he filed the lawsuit on behalf of more than a dozen residents of 13 Life Care Centers of America located in Southern California. The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Orange County Superior Court on behalf of a woman who was a resident at Lake Forest Nursing Center, which is a Life Care Centers facility in Lake Forest.

Garcia said he might ask a judge to certify the lawsuit for class-action status, which could include thousands of Life Care Centers residents.

Life Care Centers of America, based in Cleveland, Tenn., owns more than 260 centers in 28 states, according to its Web site. No one there could be reached Friday.

Mark Krueger, Life Care's regional vice president in Corona, also could not be reached.

Life Care Centers' Inland area facilities are in Barstow, Corona and Sun City. Garcia did not immediately know the names of residents in those facilities who are part of the lawsuit.

Garcia said he wants an independent monitor to be appointed to oversee the nursing homes to make sure residents get appropriate care.

"We'll drop the lawsuit if they agree to get an independent monitor," he said. "We already sent a lengthy letter, and they ignored it."

Garcia claims Life Care Centers facilities provides residents substandard care and violates their rights. The corporation promises specific medical and therapeutic care but does not do so, he said.

Garcia claims the corporation shortchanges residents on care so it can keep more of its profits.

"The problem is the facilities don't have the staff to meet the needs of the residents," he said. "There's nothing wrong with making a fair profit. But this is a moneymaking bonanza."

Garcia said Life Care Centers facilities have been "unpoliced" because the California Department of Health Services, which regulates nursing homes, does not have time to inspect them.

Department spokesman Mike Bowman said he could not comment because he had not seen Garcia's lawsuit.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Web site shows Life Care Center of Corona was last inspected Dec. 23, 2005. Sun City Convalescent Center last was inspected Oct. 5, 2006. Rimrock Villa Convalescent Center in Barstow last was inspected April 13, 2006.

"We need to get someone in there to look after these people," Garcia said. "We're talking about our mothers, fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers."


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