PA attorney general files appeal over Golden Living marketing case

The Pennsylvania attorney general's office filed an appeal last week of a state court's decision to dismiss a lawsuit against 25 Golden LivingCenters.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania dismissed the suit in late March, finding that the provider's marketing statements did not count as false advertising, but was considered “puffery,” or exaggerated sales talk.

The AG's choice to appeal to decision to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is important, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Monday, because it impacts a similar lawsuit filed against Grane Healthcare last year.

If the appeal is unsuccessful, the AG's office may have to reevaluate its attempts to obtain monetary penalties from businesses violating the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, Grane attorney Walter Cohen told the newspaper. The Commonwealth Court's March ruling held that only individuals — not the state — can be compensated for trade law violations.

A Supreme Court ruling in the case could also influence the AG's use of outside law firms — which has been slammed by long-term care providers — for handling nursing home cases. A spokesman for the AG's office told the Post-Gazette that it is “re-evaluating in all aspects the best way to proceed regarding the activities of nursing homes, including the wisdom of using outside counsel in such cases.”