Attorney General Mayes Sues to End Secrecy in Litigation Against Assisted Living Facilities

PHOENIX – Attorney General Kris Mayes today filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit filed by a vulnerable adult who was allegedly abused and neglected by the Senita Ridge assisted living facility. 

The judge had previously ordered the parties to participate in a confidential arbitration proceeding, violating Arizona’s Adult Protective Services Act. When any Arizonan files a lawsuit alleging abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, they are required by law to notify the Attorney General. This process allows the Attorney General’s Office to track the lawsuit and potentially join the case.

“Moving cases behind a veil of arbitration secrecy is not only illegal, it blocks me from performing one of my most important duties: protecting vulnerable adults,” said Attorney General Mayes. “Transparency is key to protecting vulnerable adults, which is why the legislature enacted this reporting requirement to begin with. In this case, that important process was hidden.”

Families who move their loved ones to assisted living facilities often sign arbitration agreements without even realizing what they are signing. Although private arbitration can be an effective way to resolve legal disputes, the agreements cross a legal line when they require the parties to keep allegations of elder abuse secret.

The Adult Protective Services Act gives the Attorney General the right to intervene in any elder abuse case not only to remedy past harm to the victim, but to prevent the facilities from causing harm to other vulnerable adults in the future. Under the Act, the Attorney General can ask the courts for remedies ranging from permanent injunctions against abusive behavior all the way up to forcing out facility owners or even dissolving the entity entirely.

“Unfortunately, we have seen from recent news stories that the regulatory agencies do not always have the resources or the authority to punish assisted living facilities offering substandard care,” continued Attorney General Mayes. “Any arbitration agreement with a confidentiality clause is illegal under Arizona law, and I will ask the courts to void those agreements until the facilities stop using them. Arizona families deserve to know how past residents have been treated by an assisted living facility before deciding to move their loved ones to that facility.”

The lawsuit in which the Attorney General seeks intervention is Rose Marie Scheske v. The Goodman Group MN, LLC et al, Maricopa County case number CV2022-014439. The lead attorney on the intervention action is Shane Ham, Senior Litigation Counsel at the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

A copy of the motion is available HERE.