A wrongful death lawsuit filed earlier this month in San Benito County Superior Court accuses Hollister drug rehabilitation facility Bright Future Recovery of negligence related to the  2021 death of Andrew McConnell, a patient of the facility.

According to the lawsuit filed Aug. 11 on behalf of McConnell’s spouse Victoria McConnell, Bright Future Recovery “denied medical care for a patient who had contracted Covid, and instead of discharging him to an emergency room, told the man’s brother to check him into a hotel, where the man died with foam coming out of his mouth and nose.”

In August 2021, McConnel, 49, had sought treatment for alcohol and prescription drug dependency at Fresno-based rehabilitation facility My Time. For yet unclear reasons, McConnell was transferred from the Fresno facility to Bright Future Recovery in Hollister. Within days of arriving at the facility, McConnell tested positive for Covid-19. He was released to the care of his brother and was allegedly advised to stay at a hotel where he would continue his rehabilitation treatment remotely via teleconference, the lawsuit states. He was found dead in the hotel room on Aug. 24.

According to McConnell’s family, he was pressured by My Time representatives’ “hard-sell” approach to ensure he would enroll in treatment at their facility. Arash Sadat of Mills, Sadat, Dowla—the McConnell family’s attorney—alleges that this transfer was done for the mutual benefit of the two rehabilitation centers.

“Andrew was admitted to one treatment center and then immediately transferred to another one under circumstances that suggest profit over care,” Sadat said in a press release.

The lawsuit argues that My Time knew or should have known that Bright Future was unable to provide appropriate care to McConnell. Furthermore, it states that if My Time was in fact receiving payment from Bright Future in exchange for the referral, this conduct was “malicious, oppressive, and demonstrated a reckless disregard of Plaintiffs’ rights.”

A federal statute known as the “Anti Kickback” law prohibits a physician or care provider from referring a patient to another provider with which they have a financial relationship or compensation agreement. 

Bright Future Recovery and My Time could not be reached for comment.

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