Lawsuit Against The Benjamin Demanding Receivership

Health Disparities, Racial Justice

Family Members Urge Court To Appoint Receiver To Avert Imminent Harm To Elderly Patients In Boston Nursing Home Serving Predominantly Seniors Of Color 

 Petition Cites Critical Management Failures, Staff Shortages, Inadequate Supplies, And Patient Deterioration

Update: Victory! The receivership was granted by the Court on April 3. Click here to download the court order.

Family members of residents at the Edgar P. Benjamin Healthcare Center filed a petition in Suffolk Superior Court, asking for the immediate appointment of a receiver to take over management of the facility, to avoid imminent harm to patients.  The non-profit facility known as “the Benjamin” – created nearly 100 years ago – serves approximately 70 patients, mostly Black and Latinx seniors in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston.

The petition, filed on behalf of the families by Lawyers for Civil Rights and supported by numerous staff at the facility, including the Director of Nursing, cites a litany of dangerous problems caused by mismanagement:

  • The facility has missed payroll on multiple occasions in recent months – once failing to pay its employees for weeks at a time.  This has caused critical staff shortages, with remaining staff desperately trying to meet patients’ medical needs.
  • Vendors have gone unpaid, and medical supplies have not been ordered.  
  • In one particularly harrowing incident described in the petition, the facility ran out of colostomy bags for patients who needed them.  With no ability to otherwise collect fecal matter, staff had to wrap an elderly patient in a towel to prevent feces from going everywhere and fouling the room.
  • “Call lights” next to many beds are non-functional, with patients unable to signal for help in the event of a medical emergency; wheelchairs are in disrepair; and equipment to lift patients out of bed is in distress due to failure to pay vendors.
  • Under-staffing causes meal service and scheduled activities to be delayed or missed. The dietician has not been at the facility on a regular basis, and at least 20 patients have experienced significant weight loss from December 2023 to March 2024.  Weekly risk assessment meetings have not been held since January. 
  • Security has deteriorated with staff reporting unauthorized visitors making their way onto patient floors, intimidating and threatening those in the building. This serious security breach compromises the integrity of the facility and jeopardizes human lives. 

The petition pins the blame for the current conditions on mismanagement of the facility, noting that as recently as two years ago the facility was flush with revenue that nursing homes received due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and continues to receive substantial revenue today.  Earlier this year, 34 residents, guardians, and staff asked the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to intervene to oust the facility’s Administrator, Tony Francis, citing numerous “red flags” about his tenure: 

  • The Board of Directors has dropped from 10-12 members a decade ago to just 3 today – one of whom is Mr. Francis (based on publicly available information).
  • During the same time, the Administrator’s salary has skyrocketed, from $178,000 in 2016 to $628,592 by 2021 (based on the last publicly available figure reported to the IRS). 
  • Board minutes appear to show highly unorthodox conduct, including the Administrator loaning the facility money and being repaid at a 12% interest rate, and $100,000 in lost revenue from investments in a cryptocurrency exchange. 

The Administrator has now asked the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for approval to close the facility on July 1, 2024, but the community has risen up to demand the Administrator’s removal instead.  At a packed public hearing in Roxbury this week, dozens of speakers laid the blame for the facility’s current condition squarely at the feet of the Administrator.

According to Oren Sellstrom, Litigation Director at LCR, “In an emergency situation like this, the law gives the Court not only the power but the duty to step in, appoint a receiver, and ensure that vulnerable seniors are not put at risk.  The threat of harm at the Benjamin is intolerable not only medically but from a human dignity perspective.” 

Tasheena DavisLitigation Fellow at LCR noted that Massachusetts law gives families the right to go to Court if the Attorney General has been asked to intervene but has not done so.  “When the health, safety, and well-being of our most vulnerable community members is at risk, we must act swiftly to protect them.  People of color are bearing the brunt of the harm at the Benjamin.”

“The residents and the families of the Benjamin deserve better,” said Ben Weber, Boston City Councilor for District 6.  “I applaud the residents for standing up for their right to be treated with dignity and Lawyers for Civil Rights for filing this complaint.  But it is not too late for the Attorney General to come in and make sure the residents of the facility are properly cared for and I urge her to use her considerable powers to protect the residents of my community.”

“The Benjamin is a crown jewel in the Mission Hill/Roxbury community,” said Massachusetts State Senator Liz Miranda, whose district includes the facility.  “Appointment of a receiver is necessary to ensure that residents do not continue to be put in harm’s way.”

The case is Owens v. Edgar P. Benjamin Healthcare Center, Docket No. 2637311, in Suffolk Superior Court.

Update: Victory! The receivership was granted by the Court on April 3. Click here to download the court order.

  • Click here to download the Court order granting the Receivership.
  • Click here to download the Petition.
  • Click here to download the Memorandum.
  • Click here to download the Summons & Order of Notice.
  • Click here to download the State’s Cover Letter
  • Click here to download the affidavit of the Department of Public Health
  • Click here to download the affidavit of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services
  • Click here to download the affidavit of Adam Owens.
  • Click here to download the affidavit of Alvin Walker.
  • Click here to download the affidavit of Velma Brinson.
  • Click here to download the affidavit of Marise Colsoul.
  • Click here to download the affidavit of Leslie Joseph-Henderson.
  • Click here to download the affidavit of Katherine Blicker.
  • Click here to download the affidavit of Helen Walker.
  • Click here to download the affidavit of Liz Miranda.
  • Click here to download the affidavit of Oren Sellstrom.


Affidavit-of-Stephen-Davis-EPB-petition Affidavit-of-Leslie-Darcy-EPB FINAL-AFFIDAVIT-OF-ADAM-OWENS-1