AG revives 'false advertising' fight against Golden Living

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Shapiro wants to revive a lawsuit against 25 Golden Living sites.
Shapiro wants to revive a lawsuit against 25 Golden Living sites.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has attempted to revive a lawsuit that claims nursing home giant Golden LivingCenters was guilty of “false advertising” for its services.

Shapiro wants to reinstate the lawsuit against 25 Golden locations, saying that leaving the legal decision as is would have potential “unintended consequences” for the state's citizens in numerous other ways.

Shapiro filed a brief with Pennsylvania's Supreme Court in late August, arguing that if a lower court's decision to dismiss the case weren't dismissed, state officials would have a hard time punishing businesses that falsely advertise their services.

The lawsuit claims that Golden marketing statements promised services it couldn't possibly provide due to understaffing. 

In that original court case, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled that the statements criticized by the attorney general in the suit were “puffery” — or exaggerated sales talk — and not false advertising.

However, not overriding the Commonwealth Court's ruling would “have wide-ranging and unintended consequences that limit the ability of the attorney general to protect the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and particularly her most vulnerable citizens, from the deceptive practices of a wide swath of businesses that span the gamut — nursing homes, payday lenders, opioid manufacturers and beyond,” Shapiro wrote in his appeal brief.

He maintains that Golden makes promises about resident care in its marketing materials that it can't uphold due to alleged short-staffing. 

A McKnight's request for comment from Golden was not returned.

Golden CEO Neil Kurtz, however, called the lawsuit “baseless and wholly without merit” when then-Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed it in 2015.