- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A New Mexico nursing home being sued by state Attorney General Hector Balderas has now filed a lawsuit against him.

Bloomfield Nursing Operations LLC argues that Balderas violated the state public records law by refusing to release communications between his office and out-of-state firms it is working with, reported The Albuquerque Journal (https://bit.ly/1LixSSy ).

Balderas’ office said it has fully complied with state law and produced more than 1,400 pages of documents in response to requests from Bloomfield’s lawyers.

The requests are an attempt to divert attention from the lawsuit “involving the substandard care and appalling conditions for vulnerable nursing home residents in New Mexico,” James Hallinan, Balderas’ spokesman, said Monday.

Bloomfield Nursing Operations is one of seven nursing homes the AG sued last year.

The lawsuit says they failed to deliver adequate care from 2007 to 2012, jeopardizing patients and defrauding the government. The original suit was filed by Attorney General Gary King and Balderas decided to continue pursuing it after taking office in January.

Documents requested by Bloomfield include communication with outside law firms, their contracts and draft contracts, and documents related to the analysis of service and staff, among other records.

The nursing home also asked for the names and interview transcripts of witnesses whose complaints are outlined in the lawsuit.

The AG’s office contends that some of the nursing home’s May requests fall under an exemption for burdensome or overly broad requests. But Bloomfield says that even if that is true, the AG has violated the law by not providing the records within a reasonable amount of time after the 15-day deadline.

The office also argues that some of the records are being withheld because they constitute attorney-client privilege or contain the identity of an informant.

The AG’s case against Bloomfield was highlighted in a December 2014 New York Times article about “a flourishing industry that pairs plaintiffs’ lawyers with state attorneys generals to sue companies” for alleged harm to state residents.

According to the Times article, attorney Linda Singer of law firm Cohen Milstein first contacted King in 2012 and suggested the state sue a Pennsylvania-based nursing home chain. The state ended up suing the Texas-based chain two years later instead.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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