Escrow Closes on Keiro Sale

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Lawsuits seeking postponement are rejected; further legal action still pending.

敬老4施設の一つ、ガーデナ市バーモント通りとマリン街の南西コーナーにあるサウスベイ敬老看護ホーム(写真=石原 嵩)

South Bay Keiro Nursing Home in Gardena is one of the four facilities that have been sold. (TAKASHI ISHIHARA/Rafu Shimpo)

By MIA NAKAJI MONNIER and NAO NAKANISHI, Rafu Staff Writers

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(Published Feb. 6, 2016)

Keiro Senior HealthCare’s sale of its facilities to Pacifica Companies closed escrow on Friday.

According to change-of-ownership documents sent to The Rafu Shimpo, the facilities, which will be operated by third parties Aspen and Northstar, will now be called Kei-Ai Healthcare Center. According to resident Katsuo Yamasaki, the president of Northstar visited the retirement home yesterday to introduce himself. The Rafu Shimpo contacted Keiro for comment but did not receive a response by time of publication.

The sale follows months of protest and disagreement among the Japanese American community. On Thursday, two cases were brought to the Los Angeles Superior Court requesting a temporary restraining order to postpone the sale. One was petitioned by the Ad Hoc Committee to Save Keiro and resident Kotoko Toji, the other by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), a state agency that investigates civil rights complaints. The judge denied both.

“We are disappointed with the judge’s decision,” said Elissa Barrett, a lawyer from the firm Bet Tzedek and the leader of the Ad Hoc Committee’s pro-bono legal team. “We feel that the facts in this case clearly demonstrated that irreparable harm is already occurring to the residents of the Keiro facilities, and we will remain involved in seeking justice on their part.”

Patricia Van Dyke, also of Bet Tzedek, stressed that temporary restraining orders are very difficult to obtain. “The standards are very high, almost impossibly high,” she said, “so I don’t think we’re surprised in that context that we didn’t succeed. It was a longshot; it’s always a longshot. I think that we are disappointed and surprised that the arguments didn’t seem to be given more consideration.”

The Ad Hoc Committee, represented by Bet Tzedek and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, has already filed another petition against the attorney general, for a Writ of Mandate or Writ of Mandamus, a court order requiring a government agency to correct its prior actions. In this case, the writ would call for the attorney general to reverse her approval of the sale.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Kamala Harris spoke with members of the Ad Hoc Committee about their concerns. She mentioned then that she could not legally reverse her decision, but she offered to participate in a mediation process with the committee, Keiro and Pacifica. The confidential mediations took place in late January.

DFEH, meanwhile, continues to investigate complaints of discrimination brought by several residents. If the investigation reveals that discrimination has taken place as a result of the sale, the department will take “further action.”

In a statement posted on the Ad Hoc Committee’s website, Jonathan Kaji writes, “[We] are disappointed by the ruling. However, we will ensure that Keiro, Pacifica, Aspen and Northstar strictly adhere to the attorney general’s conditions of the sale.

“Should any violations occur or there be any degradation in the quality of culturally sensitive care promised, it will be the legal responsibility of the attorney general to fully enforce the conditions of the sale.”

After Thursday’s hearings, co-chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, Charles Igawa, gathered his group around him for a pep talk. “Ima made dori, tatakaimasho,” he said. As we have up to now, let’s continue to fight.

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