EXCLUSIVE: Lawsuit against Oakmont Management Group amended to include 'wrongful death'

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There are new allegations against the assisted living facility that burned down during the North Bay fires on the morning of Oct. 9, 2017. The attorney suing the facility for elder abuse and negligence has amended her complaint to include wrongful death. (KGO-TV)

There are new allegations against the assisted living facility that burned down during the North Bay fires on the morning of Oct. 9, 2017. The attorney suing the facility for elder abuse and negligence has amended her complaint to include wrongful death.

RELATED: The evacuation of Oakmont Senior Living in Santa Rosa

In cell phone video taken two weeks after the evacuation from Villa Capri, Bess Budow could be seen in a hospital bed.

"That's all we have is each other," said Budow to her daughter in the video.

Budow recently passed away as did another resident.

"They both fell within 24 hours of being evacuated, both died in December," said attorney Kathryn Stebner.

In November, Stebner filed a lawsuit against Oakmont Management Group in part alleging elder abuse and negligence. Thursday, she filed an amended complaint that includes wrongful death.

RELATED: Family questions Oakmont Senior Living's statement that all 430 residents are 'settling into new living arrangements'

According to the lawsuit, Villa Capri residents survived only because of the herculean efforts made by family members like Kathy Allen.

"All I could think about was getting all those people to safety," said Allen in October of 2017.

Allen and her husband have described having to push or carry people downstairs in the dark.

"When I looked at those people, visions of the Titanic going down and people saying goodbye for the last time got in my head," said Mark Allen in October of 2017.

The amended complaint now alleges Oakmont Management Group has attempted to silence former Villa Capri employees by offering them $750 to $1500 dollars in exchange for their signature on a letter sent by Human Resources Vice President Karen Ellis.

VIDEO: Varenna Oakmont Senior Living Community resident describes terrifying 'inferno' and confusing evacuation
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Katheryn Mann says she was told to stay in her room as flames approached the Varenna Oakmont Senior Living Community.



The letter states the employee has no knowledge of any violations of state, federal or local laws by Oakmont Management Group the employee has not already previously disclosed.

The letter dated December 8th also requires the employee to waive any employment claims he or she has or could have against Oakmont Management Group.

"I think that it's an unusual letter," said Stebner.

The Department of Social Services is investigating the evacuations at three of Oakmont Management Group's Santa Rosa properties including Villa Capri to determine if the facilities followed their evacuation plans.

"The plan is no plan," said Stebner.

RELATED: Dept. of Social Services opens 3rd investigation into evacuation from Oakmont Senior Living

In an emailed statement to ABC7 News on October 16, 2017, Oakmont Management Group said, "All of our communities have evacuation plans, we have three backup generators on site..."

"The people who were maintenance people who used to work there said there were no generators," said Stebner.

Oakmont Management Group has not said where the generators were located or if they were working during the fire.

ABC7 News reached out to Oakmont Management Group for a response to the amended complaint and allegation they have attempted to silence employees by offering them up to 15-hundred dollars. Oakmont Management Group has not responded to our request.

Click here to view the employee payment document.

Click here to view the first amended complaint.
Click here for full coverage of the North Bay fires.

Related Topics:
firefighterscal firefirewildfireNorth Bay Firessonoma countynapa countysenior citizenslawsuitelder abuseNapaSanta Rosa
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