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Claims of chronic understaffing against 12 Golden Living Centers-operated Arkansas nursing homes will be tried as a class action lawsuit, the Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled.   

An Arkansas trial court gave the case class certification in 2014, due to a proposed class including more than 3,400 residents. The residents’ claims allege that inadequate staffing went against the facilities’ admission contracts, and violated the Arkansas Long-Term Care Residents’ Rights Act and Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. They also are seeking damages for issues they say are linked to understaffing.

Golden Living Centers challenged the initial class certification, claiming that the common questions didn’t predominate over individual residents’ issues. The Arkansas Supreme Court disagreed, stating a class action suit would be more efficient than individual trials, and the issue of a contractual or statutory liability created by understaffing could be resolved in a single proceeding.

“Otherwise, there exists a possibility of a multiplicity of suits across the state with the potential that circuit courts may reach inconsistent results,” the court said in a ruling released Thursday.

The court also said the fact that 12 nursing home facilities are involved in the suit wouldn’t impact its efficiency.