Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another ward speaks out after spending nine years in Florida's professional guardianship system

The I-Team has been exposing issues with Florida's professional guardianship system for more than a year, leading to changes in the law and helping one man get his freedom back.
Now another ward is speaking out about her own experience with the program.
Litta Flynn, who has no family in Florida, was taken into guardianship nearly a decade ago when the state became concerned she might be financially exploited.
“I'm not entitled to have anything I want and that I need,” Flynn said when she first met with the I-Team in July.
Flynn, who is now 86, was once a glamorous fashion model and a world traveler.
She reached out to the I-Team asking for help in replacing her court-appointed guardian, who she said denied her the ability to purchase basic necessities like fresh food, toiletries, eyeglasses and even a new mattress.
“I shouldn't have to live my life this way. It really isn't living. I'm just vegetating,” she said at the time.
Her guardian was appointed in 2005 after Flynn's bank called the Florida Department of Children and Families when Flynn tried to cash out a CD following her husband's death.
“I just wanted to consolidate my money into one bank. I had several at the time,” Flynn said. “And I didn't want these statements from all these banks coming in.”
Flynn was evaluated by a psychiatrist and found to be incapacitated by the court.
In the psychiatrists’ report, he references the fact that he has spoken to her court appointed temporary guardian, who told him Flynn was vulnerable to exploitation.
According to Flynn, the doctor spent just a few minutes examining her.
Flynn denies that she has ever been incapacitated.
"I know what I want and what I'm doing,” she told us in July.
Flynn originally approached a volunteer at her assisted living facility about her situation.
That person called us after seeing our stories about guardianship issues, specifically the case of Willi Berchau , who was wrongly placed in an Alzheimer's unit at the age of 99.
“You see nobody. You have no contact with anybody. It's no socialization,” Berchau told us at the time.
Berchau was moved to a less restrictive unit after we started asking questions.
He later petitioned the court for another capacity hearing.
Berchau was evaluated by another doctor, had all of his rights restored and was released from the guardianship program.
Litta Flynn also felt alone.
“There was nobody to help me. I was all by myself and had nobody to turn to,” said Flynn, who told us that letters she wrote to her guardian were mostly unanswered.
She said her guardian only met with her in person a few times during her nine years under court appointed guardianship.
After meeting with us, and turning to Willi for advice, Flynn also wrote to the court.
Her guardian resigned. Flynn's capacity was restored after she was evaluated by another doctor and she recently went back to court, where she got back most of her rights.
“I feel wonderful. I'm so happy that everything is over with, completely over with. I couldn't be happier,” she said coming out of the courthouse.
She's now speaking out about a system she said left her feeling helpless for nine years.
“It definitely shouldn't be that way, but that's the way it is when you don't have somebody to stick up for you. You need someone to help you,” Flynn said.
Flynn hopes the state will give more power to the Department of Elder Affairs to take enforcement action when they identify cases of guardianship neglect or abuse.
Currently, it is largely up to courts to police themselves and the guardians they appoint.

Another ward speaks out after spending nine years in Florida's professional guardianship system


Barbara said...

Once again, we owe so much gratitude to Adam Walser and his I-Team.

Sylvia Rudek said...

Making a positive difference, shining the bright light of truth on the dark side of the protection industry.

Deep appreciation to: Adam Walser and ABC's I-Team Action News Investigators for their hard work and dedication to give a voice to those who have been silenced.

StandUp said...

Nine years stolen from this woman. I am so happy she contacted the I-Team or she'd still be held captive.

Anonymous said...

Is there a chance the guardian will be held accountable?

Rachel said...

Bless you Mrs. Flynn!

George said...

No doubt in my mind, the guardian would not have resigned if it were not for the Willi Berchau stories in the news.

God Bless Mrs. Flynn and the ABC Investigative Team!

Boomers Against Elder Abuse said...

Congratulations to Mrs. Flynn and the I-Team! I'm so happy that you have finally been set free!

Finny said...

I'm sorry Mrs. Flynn. You've been through hell and someone should be held accountable, but I fear no one ever will. But, at least you are free and that's priceless.