Commonwealth Court dismisses Commonwealth's amended complaint against Golden Gate nursing facilities

By Nicholas Gueguen | Apr 24, 2017

HARRISBURG — The Commonwealth Court on March 22 decided to dismiss an amended complaint brought by former Attorney General Kathleen Kane against Golden Gate National Senior Care.

According to Judge Anne Covey's opinion, the Commonwealth Court considered 12 preliminary objections that Golden Gate brought against the Commonwealth's amended complaint, upholding eight of those.

The Commonwealth initially filed a complaint and a petition for injunctive relief in which it named 14 Golden Gate Pennsylvania facilities as defendants. The Commonwealth's Sept. 8, 2015, amended complaint and petition for injunctive relief included 11 more Golden Gate locations in the list of defendants.

The Commonwealth accused Golden Gate of misleading Pennsylvania consumers and Pennsylvania with "chain-wide misrepresentations in marketing materials, facility-level misrepresentations in marketing materials, resident assessments/care plans and billing statements, presenting misleading appearances during Commonwealth inspections, creating false records, making misleading statements about the level of care that would be provided to residents and failing to provide basic care."

The Commonwealth Court wrote that six objections had to do with Golden Gate being accused of breaking the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. Covey wrote in the Commonwealth Court opinion that Golden Gate argued in objection No. 4 "that the purported representations attributed to it in the amended complaint do not violate the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) because they do not constitute false advertising since they are puffery rather than material representations." 

Covey wrote in the Commonwealth Court opinion that courts have said that those two sections of the UTPCPL apply to allegations of false advertisement.

The Commonwealth had accused Golden Gate of lying to the public in marketing statements because it claimed a level of care that it could not provide much of the time because the company did not have enough people working at its buildings.

Covey wrote in the Commonwealth Court's opinion that "puffery is not actionable as false advertising."

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Golden Gate National Senior Care Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General

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