A couple who, along with an 80-year-old woman, all previously tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered can continue living with and caring for the octogenarian at her Wilshire Boulevard condominium, despite the homeowner association’s contention that the pair endangered others with their conduct earlier this summer, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant issued a preliminary injunction allowing Kim Leong and her husband, Chandar Pandey, to maintain their care of plaintiff Lynn Thompson at the Diplomat Condominiums building. In doing so, the judge extended a temporary restraining order he issued on behalf of Thompson on Sept. 9, but this time he ordered the caregivers to undergo coronavirus testing and submit negative tests to the Diplomat Condominium Association.
Acknowledging that sometimes residual effects of the virus can remain in the body, the judge said that if the caregivers test positive they can provide sworn physician declarations that they are no longer infected.
Chalfant said Thompson, who for a time lived with her caregivers at their Studio City home, has always had the right to return to her condominium and that the only issue is the prior behavior of the caregivers.
The suit was filed Sept. 4 and also names as a defendant Diplomat homeowner association President Berna Lynn Warner, an attorney who said in a sworn statement that she is a senior citizen with pre-existing conditions and that many residents and employees are, as well. Warner also said Thompson has lived at the Diplomat building for only 2 1/2 days during the last five months.
According to the suit, Thompson suffers from dementia and from dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that confines her to a wheelchair and requires around-the-clock assistance from Leong and Pandey. Thompson needs the pair’s assistance to bathe, eat and go to the restroom, the suit says.
At least one of the caregivers has been with Thompson nearly every day for the last nine years, so both have a deep understanding of her needs, according to the complaint.
Thompson and the caregivers were diagnosed with COVID-19 in late July, and she was briefly hospitalized and released on July 30, the suit states. Since the caregivers were mainly symptom-free and wanted to care for Thompson, doctors recommended that the trio quarantine together at her condo so that the plaintiff could continue to receive the care she needed, the suit says.
Thompson became sick with an unrelated illness on Aug. 1 and was taken to a hospital by paramedics, who were told by the caregivers that they and the plaintiff had the coronavirus, according to the suit, which says one of the paramedics gave that information to a Diplomat valet.
“The manager of the Diplomat … then called the caregivers and told them they needed to leave the building immediately,” the suit says.
The judge said the caregivers, out of consideration for the more than 80 other residents, should have told the homeowner association that they had the coronavirus, but that they were not obligated to do so by law or by the Diplomat guidelines.
According to homeowner association attorney Glen L. Kulik’s court papers, Leong and Pandey used the Diplomat’s two elevators and walked down hallways and in the lobby and garage without telling the building manager that they were infected. Contrary to what the caregivers now say, Pandey was in and out of the building multiple times, according to Kulik’s court papers.
“The (plaintiff’s) moving papers would have this court believe that after living in the Studio City home of the caregivers for several months, plaintiff had to return to the Diplomat to be close to UCLA hospital (to be closer to her doctors),” Kulik stated in his court papers. “That is a lie. The only reason they returned to the Diplomat was because the caregivers’ daughter-in-law, who also lives in the Studio City home, became pregnant and could not be around three people with COVID-19. The caregivers chose to risk the health of the elderly residents at the Diplomat instead.”
Eleven Diplomat residents are older than 90 years old, 29 are 80 to 90 years old and 17 are 65 to 79, according to Kulik’s court papers.
Kulik also told the judge that given Thompson’s mental state, he is skeptical that she knows the lawsuit was filed on her behalf.
Thompson’s lawyers stated in their court papers that the caregivers’ daughter-in-law’s pregnancy had nothing to do with the move back to the Diplomat.