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A Scottsdale, Arizona woman filed suit against Five Star Senior Living, who owns Pueblo Norte senior living community. Her home became uninhabitable due a significant rat infestation at the end of 2016. The photo was taken in Kathy Marcil's Pueblo Norte home in December. Photo: courtesy Kathy Marcil.

Five Star Senior Living deserves zero stars after rat infestation

What is a good night’s sleep worth to you? Is there any value in the ability to fall asleep, knowing you are safe from harm? I doubt anyone would tell you that it’s worthless, especially former Pueblo Norte resident Kathy Marcil.

“I have had weekly nightmares of rats in my mattress, couch and throughout my house. I can’t fall asleep after I wake up from these nightmares,” Marcil said. “The day afterwards, I find myself fatigued and non-productive the following day.”

This is just one of the many effects of a recent rat infestation in Marcil’s villa in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her home at Pueblo Norte Senior Living Community in Scottsdale, Arizona was overtaken by roof rats, the same animal that carried the black plague in the Middle Ages. Now, roof rats are known to carry dozens of other debilitating diseases, including hantavirus, leptospirosis, rat-bite fever, salmonellosis, and more, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

It might sound as if Marcil lived in an inner city ghetto, but Pueblo Norte Senior Living community in Scottsdale, managed by Five Star Senior Living, prides itself as being a “full-service independent and assisted living community” where “residents can enjoy a lifetime of comfort and care without having to leave the community.” Marcil had intended to live there “until I died,” she said in an interview. “I had made several friends, and most of the staff were great.” But the staff did not make up for what is obvious neglect, elder abuse, and even abuse of power in the Scottsdale facility.

The gift of rats at Christmas

Marcil first noticed something was wrong at her villa when rats completely destroyed her car, parked in the parking long near her villa. She followed up with the Pueblo Norte building manager, asking him to come to her villa to assess the damage and what she realized was a growing rodent problem. He did not respond, so Marcil then went to his office. He said he could not come to evaluate the damage, because he said, “I have have other work to do.”

It took two weeks for the manager to send the grounds people to lay traps. In the following weeks, Marcil saw evidence of a far more serious rat infestation that extended beyond just the walls of her home and her car outside the building. No pest control company ever contacted her or came to personally assess the situation. By Christmas, when her son came to visit, Marcil was sick and reported daily sore throats, headaches, and congested chest. She noticed rat droppings in her closet, and her dishwasher leaked due to water lines and wires that were chewed through by rodents. Her Christmas holiday included sorting through her belongings to decide which things were salvageable. Additionally, she realized that the therapeutic bed, prescribed to her by a doctor for fibromyalgia, was also infested with rats. She said:

I thought the massage mechanism in the bed wasn’t working, but now was working again. I didn’t know that it was really rats running in the mattress that caused the vibrations.

Marcil finally called a company, First Choice Pest Control, at her own expense since Pueblo Norte management would not help with the issue. The inspector, Rick Crosby, stated in his report that Marcil’s mattress was found next to the villa’s dumpster, filled with rat urine and droppings. He also stated that the extensive evidence of rat feces, urine, and the visible stench throughout the apartment indicated that “it is obvious that rats have inhabited the apartment for several months” posing “health hazards as well as damage to the building and contents of the apartment.”

According to court documents, Ms. Marcil’s apartment was also inspected by Adaptive Environmental Counseling. Air samples and environmental testing showed evidence of an “unclean environment” that revealed “readily visible droppings throughout the unit with large build-ups of droppings in [the] corner of the room consistent with prolonged rodent problem.” The report from Adaptive concluded that the conditions in her apartment “create a potential contaminant exposure risk to occupancy and contents.”

The rat infestation nightmare continues

Since moving out of her villa, Marcil has filed a lawsuit against Five Star Senior Living, a Newton, Massachusetts-based publicly traded company (NASDAQ:FVE), employing 22,500 people managing 283 senior living communities. The company has been involved in other high profile lawsuits in the past. According to McKnights Senior Living News, Five Star was involved in another high profile Arizona case that resulted in the company paying $7,300,000 to the estate of Doris L. Cote, a deceased former resident of The Forum at Desert Harbor, Peoria, Arizona.

A jury agreed with the plaintiffs that Five Star staff members had falsified records to hide neglect.  The estate of Ms. Cote sued the company alleging “pain and suffering as a result of improper treatment constituting violations of the Arizona Adult Protective Services Act and wrongful death.”

Marcil states that she never intended to file a suit, but was met with indifference and ill treatment during the infestation disaster at her villa. When she scheduled movers to come on January 2, but could not personally be there during the process due to her illness, Pueblo Norte did not bother to inform her they hadn’t shown up.

Marcil said, “I called the CEO, asking him to notify the movers that I was so ill that I couldn’t get out of bed to supervise the move. I was put in a position of having to trust their professionalism & integrity. Instead of cancelling the move, I felt it was important to get my things out of the contaminated Villa. I wanted to salvage some belongings that weren’t completely ruined by the contamination. When those movers failed to show up I was not notified. We thought my possessions were in a warehouse, as had been arranged for previously. Instead, when my son decided to check on Pueblo Norte’s progress of restoring my villa, he was stunned to discover all my belongings were still there–in the villa and on the patio! A month where the rats had to time to further contaminate and destroy the few possessions that I had hoped to salvage! I was never notified!”

In light of Marcil’s experiences at Pueblo Norte, she continues to negotiate a settlement that will compensate her for her horrific experiences due to rat infestation that continue to give her nightmares.

Again, what is a good night’s sleep worth to you?

Related Links:A Merry “Rat-Infested” Christmas

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