Settlement checks could be going out soon to families in deadly Ida nursing home evacuation

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 4:01 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - If all goes well, settlement checks could be going out soon for victims of a deadly nursing home evacuation during Hurricane Ida.

Attorneys say they have won tentative approval for a multi-million dollar deal to compensate more than 800 nursing home residents who were sent to a nightmarish warehouse in Independence during Hurricane Ida.

Nearly one year ago, witnesses say it was bedlam at a massive old warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish. The residents, some elderly and in need of special medical attention, were forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor, without adequate staff, and poor sanitation.

“My dad said he was in his feces and urine for days. He said there was water everywhere, dirt everywhere, he was not eating,” says Rashell Powell.

A warehouse facility in the Tangipahoa Parish town of Independence served as an evacuation...
A warehouse facility in the Tangipahoa Parish town of Independence served as an evacuation shelter for more than 850 nursing home residents during Hurricane Ida.(Tammie Mills, WVUE-TV)

The Louisiana Department of Health moved in to shut down the inadequate shelter and took away the nursing home licenses of owner Bob Dean. Now attorneys for the victims say monetary relief is on the way.

“Last week we successfully achieved a preliminary settlement agreement against Bob Dean in the seven nursing homes,” said Blair Constant, with Couhig Partners.

That deal calls for 843 victims to recover from Dean’s insurance company, somewhere around $17,000 each, depending on the circumstance.

“We are breaking records here in advance of the one-year anniversary,” said Constant.

Katherine Russo died one month after being evacuated to the warehouse.

“She was intellectually disabled. She had the mind of a child. She laughed really loud and if you were in a bad mood she would brighten your day,” Russo’s niece Janice Verdin, who worked as a manager for Dean, says.

As troubling as the Ida evacuation was, Verdin says she was not surprised as Dean botched other evacuations during previous storms.

“In 2008, we had to evacuate and they put us in a Winn-Dixie,” she says.

Powell says her 67-year-old father Gerald Cavalier survived the ordeal but was forever changed.

“He became very frustrated and confused, just deteriorating and he was just like ‘why did this happen? where were yall?’” said Powell.

That memory will last forever, but now Powell hopes for a measure of justice if the court approves this tentative settlement which could happen sometime in October.

Victims’ attorneys say they will not give up their right to pursue other litigation against Bob Dean regardless of this deal.

Dean faces several felony charges and is now out of jail on a $350,000 bond.

Bob Dean arrested
Bob Dean arrested

FOX 8 reached out to Dean’s attorney for a comment but have not heard back.

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