Court awards $45k in penalties and restitution
TACOMA – October 6, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Attorney General Bob Ferguson Friday prevailed in a lawsuit before Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper alleging Dennis and Jennifer Lalander, and their business Adult Family Home Service Center (AFHSC), violated the Consumer Protection Act. Culpepper ordered the Lalanders to pay over $27,000 in restitution for selling bogus training to 700 caregivers in adult family homes. The court also ruled that the Lalanders cannot sell training packets going forward without prior approval from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
In Washington state, all adult family home employees must annually complete twelve hours of DSHS approved continuing education training. Adult family home residents are often ill, unable to care for themselves, and vulnerable to neglect and abuse. Continuing education is designed to increase a caregiver’s knowledge and skills to help protect elderly adults and people with disabilities.
Adult family homes can put their licenses to operate in jeopardy by employing caregivers who have not completed the required continuing education.
“The Lalanders’ scam to make a buck endangered vulnerable adults in our community, while jeopardizing the livelihoods of adult family home providers,” said Ferguson. “I will hold those accountable who prey on the vulnerable for their own financial gain.”
From mid-2012 until at least Dec. 2013, the Lalanders offered and sold continuing education self-study training packets on topics such as caring for people with Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, and Parkinson’s. None of the Lalanders’ training packets were ever approved by DSHS and therefore did not satisfy DSHS’s continuing education requirement.
The Lalanders kept records of when adult family home caregivers needed to update their continuing education with DSHS. When the deadline was close at hand, they would call the caregiver or the manager to sell the training packet, which they represented would satisfy DSHS’s continuing education requirement. The Lalanders collected $72 for each twelve-hour continuing education training packet they sold, and $6 for each credit hour in transactions for fewer than twelve hours of self-study. In total, approximately 700 caregivers were affected.
The Lalanders included pre-signed certificates of completion with their training packets, which the caregiver or manager could present to DSHS to show compliance. However, when caregivers or adult family home managers presented these certificates to DSHS, they were informed they did not meet the continuing education requirements. This left the caregiver in the position of having to spend additional money to obtain continuing education training elsewhere, often with little time to do so. The adult family home could also be cited and fined.
Judge Culpepper’s ruling Friday includes:
A permanent injunction prohibiting the Lalanders from selling adult family home training materials without prior approval from DSHS;
Restitution in the amount of $27,378;
Civil penalties of $17,550 for violations of the Consumer Protection Act; and
Attorneys’ costs and fees.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Contacts: Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, peterl (at) atg.wa (dot) gov