Judge grants order for Hill City care center to cease operations after operating despite suspension

Updated: July 17, 2019 06:35 PM

UPDATE: A judge has granted a temporary restraining order for Chappy's Golden Shores to cease operations. The facility has been operating despite a suspension order.

The Minnesota Department of Health released the following statement after the order:


"In collaboration with local officials, we requested a court order against Chappy's Golden Shores. The court order, which was issued today, directs Chappy's to stop providing unlicensed home care services and to stop unlawfully obstructing or otherwise taking any action to impede MDH investigative and regulatory functions.

"The documents filed as a part of this action are available from the Aitkin County District Court and clearly show why this extraordinary measure was needed.

"All Minnesotans receiving health care services deserve respect and high-quality service, and we are committed to holding providers accountable to that standard. We encourage anyone with concerns about potential maltreatment to contact the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC) at 844-880-1574. The service is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

The attorney representing Chappy's released the following statement after the order:

"We are applying to the Minnesota Court of Appeals for an emergency stay of the TRO because it was granted without allowing us an opportunity to be heard."

A Hill City assisted living facility is under fire once more, now for reportedly operating despite a suspension order.

In a civil complaint filed this week through the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm alleges Chappy's Golden Shores staff "continue to provide home care services to vulnerable adults and former Chappy's residents," which violates a suspension order and a Minnesota statute that "requires a home care provider be licenses to provide home care services."

The complaint was filed this week in light of previous instances of abuse allegations and license violations. According to the complaint, the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center reported receiving 44 reports of suspected maltreatment at the facility from 2016-2018.

In December 2018, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) launched an immediate 90-day suspension of Chappy's comprehensive home care license after violations were "deemed to pose an imminent risk to the health and safety of the clients served by this home care provider."

RELATED: MDH announces 90-day suspension of Hill City assisted living facility

Chappy's appealed the order and during a hearing, a judge issued a decision affirming the suspension.

Then, in January, a MDH report revealed an investigation into allegations a staff member struck a resident "in the head and face." The resident was hospitalized and later died. 

RELATED: Report says Hill City care center resident was beaten by staff member weeks before death

The investigation concluded Chappy's did not report the incident, or take steps to ensure the abuse would not reoccur.

In February, the MDH issued a notice to revoke Chappy's home care license. Chappy's appealed and the issue is currently ongoing, according to the complaint filed this week. Meanwhile, MDH officials reported staff continued to provide home care services in violation of the temporary suspension order.

The complaint filed this week claims Chappy's staff obstructed authorized investigation efforts, forged medical records and continued to illegally provide home care services from February through June.

The complaint states that following the suspension of Chappy's license, the owner sold the main facility to her daughter, who attempted to open a new facility called "Mont Royal." Chappy's employees allegedly asked former Chappy's residents to "return to live at the 'new Chappy's' facility."

Through the complaint, the MDH commissioner seeks an order to enjoin the Chappy's staff mentioned; in other words, a court order to force staff to halt care efforts deemed illegal and interference with investigative efforts. 

KSTP reached out to the attorney representing Chappy's for comment, who, in an emailed statement, said:

The Complaint represents a further escalation of a longstanding campaign of harassment, intimidation, coercion, and gross violations of constitutional rights by MDH and various other state and local officials acting on MDH's requests. Chappy's and its former employees have consistently denied MDH's accusations that led to the suspension of Chappy's licenses in December 2018. Additionally, many of the alleged victims of maltreatment have also denied that any maltreatment has occurred and have given statements supportive of Chappy's and its former employees to MDH investigators. The MDH investigators have repeatedly lied in their public reports about these statements.

Some former Chappy's residents rent rooms at the former location of Chappy's under leases that explicitly state that no services are offered. The former residents (now merely tenants) choose of their own free will to live together at the location that they know as their home and with the people that they identify as their family. Their landlord is not Chappy's, as MDH falsely claims, but rather is Mont Royal, the new owner of the property. The tenants know, and are willing to testify in court, that they can receive no services from their landlord, and that they must apply to Aitkin County for any services they believe they require.

MDH has repeatedly been told these facts, but they refuse to even acknowledge the attempts to communicate with them regarding these facts. Instead, they have responded to Chappy's attempts to defend itself and the tenants' desires to live their own lives by an organized and continuous campaign of harassment, intimidation, and coercion against both Chappy's former employees and the tenants of Mont Royal. MDH investigators and Aitkin County deputies working at MDH's request have come to Mont Royal numerous times, demanding to speak with tenants and former Chappy's employees.  

On three occasions, Aitkin County deputies, working at the request of MDH, have forcibly entered the homes of former Chappy's employees and Mont Royal tenants, have held them at gunpoint, and have ransacked their homes, including one raid that focused entirely on looting a former employee's underwear drawer. They have illegally seized and stolen property from former Chappy's employees and Mont Royal tenants, and have threatened them with arrest if they try to call an attorney or leave. While being detained during these illegal searches of their homes, Mont Royal residents have been denied access to their medications by Aitkin County deputies. Both former Chappy's employees and Mont Royal residents are now living in constant fear of the next "raid" at gunpoint, and many Mont Royal tenants have been forced to keep their medications in "go bags" so they can be readily available in case they have to flee the building when MDH or Aitkin County deputies come again to harass and abuse them.

MDH investigators have also repeatedly threatened former Chappy's employees, former Chappy's residents, and Mont Royal tenants in an effort to try to coerce them into changing their statements supportive of Chappy's. When former Chappy's employees invoke their constitutional right to speak to an attorney, MDH investigators and Aitkin County deputies ignore or mock the request and persist with questioning.

MDH's latest Complaint seeks to enlist the Court into its campaign of harassment and intimidation by seeking an order that would effectively strip all former Chappy's employees and Mont Royal residents of their constitutional rights by subjecting them to searches of their homes at MDH's whim and by compelling them to respond to questioning whenever MDH wants to "have another go" at trying to force them to change their statements into a form of MDH's liking.  

The conduct of MDH and Aitkin County has been reminiscent of a police state, not a constitutional republic under the rule of law. Accordingly, Chappy's and its former employees will vigorously contest MDH's latest stunt in court. Chappy's and its former employees will also seek to hold MDH and Aitkin County accountable for their gross violations of civil rights in future court actions under state and federal civil-rights laws.

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Rebecca Omastiak

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