New Mexico nursing home sued by state AG sues back

A New Mexico nursing home being sued by the state attorney general claims that he refused to release communications between his office and two out-of-state law firms working on the case, violating the state's public records law.

Bloomfield Nursing Operations LLC filed a lawsuit in state district court this week, claiming Attorney General Hector Balderas' office has improperly denied the provider's requests for the documents, and has not produced them in a reasonable time period required by New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act.

Among the documents requested are communications between Balderas' office and law firms based in Washington D.C. and Houston, their contracts and the names and interview transcripts of the family members and former staffers who made claims of inadequate care that spurred the AG's original lawsuit. The nursing home's lawsuit claims the documents withheld by the AG “were already produced to the New York Times, presumably pursuant to IPRA requests.”

The nursing home's requests for the documents are an attempt to turn attention away from “substandard care and appalling conditions for vulnerable nursing home residents in New Mexico,” countered James Hallinan, spokesman for the attorney general, in an Albuquerque Journal article.

Bloomfield is among seven nursing homes sued by the AG last year, alleging they were understaffed, failed to provide adequate care to residents and submitted fraudulent billings to the government. The nursing homes have since fired back, saying the staffing and services information used in the AG's suit is “bogus.”

One of the law firms named in Bloomfield's suit, Washington-based Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, is also working on a similar lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania AG against long-term care giant Golden Living.