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rat infestation, Scottsdale, Pueblo Norte
A Scottsdale, Arizona woman filed suit against Five Star Senior Living, who owns Pueblo Norte Senior Living Community. Her home became uninhabitable due a significant rat infestation at the end of 2016. The photo was taken in Kathy Marcil's Pueblo Norte home in December. Photo: courtesy Kathy Marcil.

A Merry “Rat-Infested” Christmas

Scottsdale Senior Care Facility Sued over Alleged Rat Infestation

According to court filings, an Arizona woman has filed suit against Pueblo Norte Senior Living Community located in Scottsdale, Arizona. The lawsuit alleges that Katherine Marcil, a former resident, was forced to evacuate her home over the 2016 Christmas holidays due to a significant rat infestation at Pueblo Norte.

five star quality care, Pueblo Norte, Scottsdale

Kathy Marcil after she became sick due to a rat infestation in her home at Pueblo Norte senior living community in Scottsdale, Arizona. Ms. Marcil filed suit against the company Five Star Quality Care, Inc., who owns the community, after she became sick and was forced to vacate the premises.

The Pueblo Norte community website describes Pueblo Norte as “a full-service senior living community that has offered a unique blend of residential and health care services providing a continuum of care for more than 30 years.” The suit alleges Ms. Marcil’s home was so infested by rats that her entire apartment was toxic and uninhabitable. The case claims that the rats caused so much damage that Ms. Marcil lost most of her belongings. Part of the losses include total destruction of her 2014 Mazda sedan parked in the community parking lot.

Ms. Marcil claims she became sick, homeless and financially ruined as a result of the negligence at Pueblo Norte.

“I never thought a company that represented being a five star provider would completely ignore these issues,” said Ms. Marcil in a phone interview. “What breaks my heart was having to leave so many good friends, and when all this happened I was forced to leave Pueblo Norte with 24 hours’ notice. Not once did any of the staff call to check on me or ask how I was doing. They just did not seem to care whatsoever. It was all so just so disheartening.”

A “Visible Stench” Ignored by Pueblo Norte Management

Ms. Marcil’s suit claims Pueblo Norte executive management knowingly ignored complaints by residents and dismissed the severity of the rat infestation in order to save money.

According to the Ms. Marcil, no professional pest control services were hired to mitigate the problem. One of the more disturbing claims in the case involves rats that were discovered inside Ms. Marcil’s bed that had been there for an extended period of time, according to the pest control company report.

Rick Crosby, from First Choice Pest Control, the company responsible for inspection of Ms. Marcil’s apartment, reported seeing Ms. Marcil’s bed next to the apartment dumpster, noting it was filled with rat urine and droppings.

Crosby also stated in the report that the extensive evidence of rat feces, urine, and the visible stench throughout the apartment indicated that “it is obvious that rats have inhabited the apartment for several months” posing “health hazards as well as damage to the building and contents of the apartment.”

Crosby’s report stated that some of the organisms that are spread by rats include Salmonella bacteria, Murine Typhus, Rat-bite fever, Hantavirus, and Leptospirosis, to name a few.

The droppings, urine or saliva of rodents are known to transmit Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a serious respiratory disease in humans caused by infection with the Hantavirus.

NBC recently reported that leptospirosis caused by rat urine caused several people to become sick and one death in New York. Roof rats are also known to transmit disease directly by contaminating food with their urine or feces or by biting people. Indirectly, they transmit by infecting as when fleas bite a disease-infected rat, then a person or other animal.

According to court documents, Ms. Marcil’s apartment was also inspected by Adaptive Environmental Counseling. Air samples and environmental testing showed evidence of an “unclean environment” that revealed “readily visible droppings throughout the unit with large build-ups of droppings in [the] corner of the room consistent with prolonged rodent problem. The report from Adaptive concluded that the conditions in her apartment “create a potential contaminant exposure risk to occupancy and contents.”

Not Five Star’s First Lawsuit

Pueblo Norte is owned by Newton, Massachusetts-based Five Star Senior Living Inc., formerly Five Star Quality Care. According to McKnights Senior Living News, Five Star was involved in another high profile Arizona case that resulted in the company paying $7,300,000 to the estate of Doris L. Cote, a deceased former resident of The Forum at Desert Harbor, Peoria, Arizona.

A jury agreed with the plaintiffs that Five Star staff members had falsified records to hide neglect.  The estate of Ms. Cote sued the company alleging “pain and suffering as a result of improper treatment constituting violations of the Arizona Adult Protective Services Act and wrongful death.”

Five Star recently rolled out a plan to combat serious challenges affecting the company, such as low occupancy and labor shortages that have plagued the company in recent years. In 2015, the company risked takeover by Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Senior Star, who offered $325 million for its purchase. Since then, the company has been embroiled in an “ongoing fight” between shareholders William Thomas and Robert Thomas and Five Star’s Managing Director Barry M. Portnoy, who the New York Times said is “far more interested in making money than spending it” and whose shareholders say he has “enriched [himself] at investors’ expense. Bruce Mackey the CEO of had no comment on the matter.

According to Yahoo Finance, Five Star Senior Living is a publicly traded company (NASDAQ:FVE), employing 22,500 people managing 283 senior living communities.

Neither the Executive Director at Pueblo Norte nor Five Star provided a statement or responded to a request for an interview.

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