Former owners of Buffalo nursing home suing County Executive Mark Poloncarz for defamation

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– A former Buffalo nursing home that was the target of criticism from county and state officials, has also generated several lawsuits.

The Long Island couple were known as “controlling investors” of the former Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

The county executive accused the owners of being out-of-touch, and recent court documents seem to back him up.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said this in August 2018:

“If I had the power to shut it down I would force the sale of Emerald South from its current deadbeat Downstate owners who neither care about the patients and residents, nor the employees of this facility.”

County Executive Mark Poloncarz touched off a firestorm, blasting the owners of the former Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center two years ago, accusing the Long Island ownership of being out of touch with the Buffalo facility.

He also backed up the complaints of the employees’ union, after two residents were killed. One by falling from a third-floor window, the other was beaten to death by a fellow patient.

The owners, Judy and Benjamin Landa sued Poloncarz personally for defamation.

“Each resident is entitled to rights that need to be protected under the law, and that simply was just not done by these folks.”

Michael Scinta, Attorney for Former Patients

Mike Scinta is the attorney for the estate of William Strasner, the 87-year-old resident of Emerald South, who died trying to climb out of a third-floor window that he had removed at least 10 times.

“By removing the bolts, tying sheets and other materials together to climb out of the facility almost like you are trying to get out of a fire, and had fallen and was injured.”

Michael Scinta, Attorney for Former Patients

Poloncarz’s claim the owners were out of touch seemed to be evidenced during a hearing in October when former owner Judy Landa testified she could not remember the names of the patients who died during her ownership.

That was Strasner and Ruth Murray who had been beaten to death by a fellow patient.

Murray’s death gained so much public exposure, it led to Erie County passing a measure called Ruthie’s Law to protect nursing home patients.

“And this is something that should not happen, and hopefully won’t happen in the future.”

Michael Scinta, Attorney for Former Patients

Mike Scinta is suing the former Emerald South owners on behalf of William Strasner’s estate and the estate of Ruth Murray.

Mark Poloncarz is asking a state judge to dismiss the defamation lawsuit, but last week the former owners’ attorney filed documents opposing it.

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