Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Story Behind the Story

In November 2005, the Los Angeles Times published a four-part investigative series titled "Guardians for Profit." The series shed light on unjust aspects of the business of professional conservatorship. The story was co-written by three Times reporters: Robin Fields, Evelyn Larrubia and Jack Leonard. Their reporting found that the elderly in California could be put under the complete legal control of a conservator with little to no notification, input or reason. Once under the thumb of a conservator, not only was it nearly impossible to remove the designation, but the conservator would often sap the financial resources of the victim, bleeding them dry. The story detailed shocking, saddening and ultimately scary accounts of seniors having their independence pulled from them before being isolated from loved ones and taken advantage of, with little to no judicial oversight.

But reporter Jack Leonard said digging up the truth was far from an easy task when it came to "Guardians for Profit." His story behind the story gives some insight into what it really takes to cut it as a journalist.

The story of how "Guardians for Profit" came to be starts in the summer of 2002, more than three years before it was published.

Full Article and Source:
Guardians Of The Truth

Guardians For Profit:
When a Family Matter Turns Into a Business
By Robin Fields, Evelyn Larrubia and Jack Leonard
Photos: Part 1: A Sudden Loss of Independence
Conservators are supposed to protect the elderly and infirm. But some neglect their clients, isolate them -- even plunder their assets.
November 13, 2005

Justice Sleeps While Seniors Suffer
By Jack Leonard, Robin Fields and Evelyn Larrubia
Photos: Part 2: Neglect — and Outright Theft
Probate courts are supposed to watch conservators' conduct and discipline those who abuse their authority. They've failed dismally in this vital role.
November 14, 2005

Missing Money, Unpaid Bills and Forgotten Clients
By Evelyn Larrubia, Jack Leonard and Robin Fields
Photos: Missing Money and Unpaid Bills
Anne L. Chavis, a churchgoing nurse, had sweeping power over wards' lives. It took years for the VA and others to rein her in.
November 15, 2005

For Most Vulnerable,a Promise Abandoned
By Robin Fields, Evelyn Larrubia and Jack Leonard
PHOTOS: A Public Agency’s Painful Decline
GRAPHIC: Little room for the needy
L.A.'s public guardian, stripped of county funding for over a decade, turns away many in need.
November 16, 2005

Guardians' Adoptions

The state Supreme Court upheld a law making it easier for legal guardians to adopt children, saying youngsters need a stable home and a guardian doesn't have to prove that the child's biological parents are unfit.

The case involved children placed with guardians at a family member's request, usually because the parents can't care for them. If parents object, a judge must decide whether parental custody would be harmful to the child.

A 2004 state law allows a guardian to adopt a child after two years if a judge agrees. Before the law was passed, guardians could adopt only if the parents had abandoned the child, committed a crime showing unfitness or were mentally ill.

In upholding the new law, the court unanimously rejected a Yolo County woman's challenge to her 5-year-old daughter's adoption by guardians who had taken care of her for 3 1/2 years.

"After years of guardianship, the child has a fully developed interest in a stable, continuing and permanent placement with a fully committed caregiver," the court said.

Kimball Sargeant, lawyer for the Yolo County woman, argued that the law is unconstitutional because it removes rights from a parent without proof that the parent is unfit.

Full Article and Source:
California court upholds guardians' adoptions

More information:
California Supreme Court bolsters guardians' right to adopt

High court makes it easier for guardians to adopt children

Exploitation of Residents

A man who once worked with the developmentally disabled in Los Lunas pleaded guilty last week to charges that he took money from two clients who were under his care.

Randy Menear pleaded guilty to one count of exploitation of a resident, a fourth-degree felony. Menear admitted taking money from a developmentally disabled Medicaid recipient in 2003 and 2004. As part of his plea agreement, a second count of financial exploitation of a second resident was dismissed, although District Judge John Pope ordered that the defendant must make restitution to both individuals.

Judge Pope ordered Menear to be placed on probation for 18 months and make restitution to both victims in the amount of $1,650. As an additional consequence, the conviction will exclude Menear from future employment in any facility receiving Medicaid or any other federally funded health care program.

Full Article and Source:
Caretaker pleads guilty of exploitation of residents

Friday, March 20, 2009

Out-of-Control Discovery

A joint report by two legal organizations says that out-of-control discovery in civil cases can be so expensive that it prevents parties from litigating legitimate disputes.

Prepared by the American College of Trial Lawyers task force and the Denver-based Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, it calls for discovery rules to be revised to comport with the age of e-mail and computerized documents, reports the Associated Press.

In addition to limiting discovery, the state and federal court systems should also assign a single judge to handle each case from start to finish and give judges the power to order mediation, when appropriate, the report recommends.

Curb Out-of-Control Discovery, Report by Trial Lawyers Group Recommends

The report:

Elder Exploitation - Again

When Tina Palagi was sentenced in court on charges of elder exploitation in December, she got a suspended sentence and a strong warning to stay out of trouble.

Now the Great Falls woman is accused of stealing from her own mother while her mother was ill, causing the elderly woman to lose her home to foreclosure just months before it should have been paid off.

Palagi made her initial appearance in Cascade County District Court on the newest charge of elder exploitation. That charge comes on the heels of a host of other new charges, accusing Palagi of other counts of elder exploitation and felony theft.

According to the charging documents, a Great Falls Police detective was questioning Palagi's mother during an ongoing investigation into Palagi's suspected role in numerous financial schemes.

According to charging documents, the detective learned Palagi had been trusted to manage her mother's finances while her mother was seriously ill.

According to court documents, the older woman bought her house in 1973 and should have made the last payment in 2003. Instead, she learned her home was in foreclosure when sheriff's deputies told her she was being evicted and had 30 minutes to vacate the house. The charges say Palagi took out a loan against the house in 2000 and failed to pay back the loan, causing the house to go into foreclosure. Palagi had been authorized to govern her mother's affairs, but her mother did not know about the loan.

Palagi also is accused of stealing her mother's retirement benefits while her mother was sick.

Full Article and Source:
Woman convicted of elder exploitation now charged with bilking mom

More information:
Woman charged with bilking mom, who lost house

Crime Stopper Tip Results in Arrest

TX - On January 7, an Aggravated Robbery took place at the Quick Cash Beer and Liquor Store. The Robbery was caught on video and released to all media outlets on January 23rd. The most disturbing scene on the video was one of the suspects beating an elderly man on crutches in front of the store. On January 28th, an anonymous citizen called into the Crime Stoppers Tip Line with information that led to the identification and charging of Darius Bariell Bogan as the suspect seen on the video beating the man. Charges of Aggravated Robbery were filed on Bogan on January 29th and the 351st District Court issued warrant 1201172 for his arrest.

On the morning of Monday March 2, 2009 another anonymous citizen called the Crime Stoppers Tip Line to provide information on the location of Darius Bogan. Later that afternoon he was arrested by the Gulf Coast Violent Offender's Task Force in the 3200 block of Royal Avenue in Baytown.

Crime Stoppers is proud to partner with the citizens, law enforcement, and media in helping to bring violent fugitives to justice.

Crime Stoppers offers up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and charging of any felony suspect. Callers are urged to call 713-222-TIPS or log on to with any information. All callers remain anonymous.

Crime Stopper tip results in arrest of violent robber

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lawyer Ordered to Repay

A lawyer, who has claimed he is fighting to protect his longtime client's desire to leave the bulk of his estimated $50 million fortune to the poor children of Panama, has been smacked by a Palm Beach County judge.

Attorney Richard Lehman has been ordered to repay $1 million to the estate of Wilson Charles Lucom, an eccentric Palm Beach millionaire who moved to Panama in the last years of his life.

Calling Lehman a "covetous opportunist," Circuit Judge John Phillips said Lehman misused $655,000 that was part of Lucom's Florida estate to get his hands on tens of millions in Panama. In an 11-page ruling, Phillips ordered Lehman to repay the money along with the $390,000 that was spent tracking how the money was spent.

He also ordered Lehman to pay the fees of lawyers who represented Lucom's Panamanian widow and her children.

Lehman disputed Phillips' findings. "I never put a dollar in my pocket and I spent $1million of my own money defending the estate," said Lehman, vowing to appeal.

Full Article and Source:
Boca Raton lawyer ordered to repay $1 million to client's estate

Virtual Caretaker

If British researchers are successful, it may soon be easier for people with dementia to remain in their own homes.

The investigators are working on “smart” home sensing systems capable of doing everything from reminding people to turn off the faucet to automatically switching lights and appliances on and off. The idea is to create a sort of virtual caregiver, even to the point of using the voices of friends and relatives to record the reminders and other messages.

The technology is currently being trialed in two care homes in Great Britain, where it has been helping people for more than a year now. “The driver really has been to arrive at a creative engineering solution that addresses real problems faced by real people with real needs,” system developer Professor Roger Orpwood was quoted as saying. “The key is to focus on enabling people, not on taking decisions away from them.”

The systems are aimed at taking some of the burden off of caregivers, and in some cases, may even allow people with dementia to live on their own. The next step will be to ensure they can be managed by local health care providers. If that pans out, Professor Orpwood believes we could see these types of systems go on the market in the next five years.

Presented at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's "Pioneers '09," March 4, 2009, London

Smart Homes Liberate People with Dementia

Elder Abuse Fatality Review Team

Prompted in part by the freezing death of an Alzheimer's patient who wandered outside her nursing home in the middle of the night last month, DuPage County is setting up a team to investigate allegations of physical abuse of senior citizens in nursing homes, as well as in-home health-care situations.

State's Atty. Joseph Birkett has asked the Illinois Department on Aging to allow the establishment of an Elder Abuse Fatality Review Team that would investigate claims of violence against county residents 60 and older. A state law allows approved programs to access restricted information such as nursing home records.

The team would consist of representatives from the state's attorney's office, the sheriff, the county coroner, police, nursing home associations, and county and state senior citizens agencies.

Heidi Leon, a 23-year-old nursing assistant, was charged with criminal neglect of a long-term care facility resident, criminal neglect of an elderly person and obstruction of justice in connection with the death of Sarah Wentworth, 89, whose body was found in an Itasca nursing home's courtyard after she was outside for perhaps as long as five hours.

Full Article and Source:
Abuse of DuPage elderly to get closer scrutiny

Financial Planning Seminars

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 44.4 million caregivers (or one out of every five households ) are involved in caregiving to persons aged 18 or over, and 34 million caregivers provide care for someone aged 50+. Are you one of the millions? Will you be someday? Find out how to make a plan for the future with one of these free financial planning seminars offered by Georgian Court's Office of Planned Giving.

Maja Meighan, director of planned giving: "The Lofty Pines Society Seminars are designed to give people a better understanding on how to plan their finances for the future.”

The following seminars are offered:

* Planning Your Legacy; Wednesday, April 1, 2:004:00 p.m., Casino Ballroom

* Maximizing Life Insurance, Annuities, and Long-Term Care with Andrew M. Horn & Associates, Wednesday, April 8, 2:004:00 p.m., North Dining Room

* The Rules of Guardianship with Carole Hedinger, CPA, '83 & Douglas J Hull, Esq. Wednesday, April 29, 12:002:00 p.m., North Dining Room

All seminars will be held on the GCU Lakewood campus. Although they are free, registration is required. Online registration is available at
You may also register by calling the Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732.987.2263.

Full Article and Source:
Free financial planning seminars at Georgian Court University

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Broken Trust: Elders, Family and Finances

Elder financial abuse costs older Americans more than $2.6 billion per year and is most often perpetrated by family members and caregivers, according to a new report released by the MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMI) entitled, Broken Trust: Elders, Family and Finances, which is accompanied by tip sheets for older adults and families on how to prevent such issues.

The report, produced in conjunction with the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, states up to one million older Americans may be targeted yearly and that related costs like health care, social services, investigations, legal fees, prosecution, lost income and assets reach tens of millions of dollars annually. The study indicates that for each case of abuse reported, there are an estimated four or more that go unreported. The economic downturn may increase vulnerability. Family members and caregivers are the culprits in 55% of cases, although financial losses are higher with investment fraud scams.

The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) suggests that the “typical” victim of elder financial abuse is between the ages of 70 and 89, white, female, frail and cognitively impaired. She is trusting of others and may be lonely or isolated, although reports show that there is a very diverse population of victims.

Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute: “Elder financial abuse has been called the ‘crime of the 21st century. With the present state of the economy, older Americans are at a greater risk than ever of having their financial security threatened. And, for every dollar lost to theft and abuse, there are still more related costs associated with stress and health care and the intervention of social service, investigative and legal entities."

Elder financial abuse takes many forms, including, but not limited to: fraud (coupon, telemarketing, mail); repair and contracting scams; “sweetheart scams;” false/fraudulent advice from loan officers, stock brokers, insurance salespersons, accountants and bank officials; undue influence; illegal viatical settlements; abuse of powers of attorney and guardianship; identity theft; Internet “phishing;” failure to fulfill contracted health care services; and Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

Full Article and Source:
Financial Abuse Costs Elders More Than $2.6 Billion Annually, According to MetLife Mature Market Institute Study, Though Four in Five Cases Are Not Reported

Withholding of Consent Case

Below is a summary of an important new decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court regarding whether, and under what circumstances, a guardian has the authority to refuse treatment for an incapacitated person who does not have an end-stage medical condition or is permanently unconscious. In brief, the court held as follows:

1. A court order that appoints a person as a plenary guardian does not authorize that person to refuse life-sustaining treatment for incapacitated persons who do not have end-stage medical conditions or who are not permanently unconscious. In other words, a guardianship order by itself does not authorize the guardian to make such a decision.

2. A guardian must secure a special court order to allow him to refuse life-sustaining treatment for an incapacitated person who does not have an end-stage medical condition or who is not permanently unconscious. The guardian has an "extraordinary burden" to prove by clear and convincing evidence that death would be in the incapacitated person's best interests, i.e., that extending life would be inhumane under the circumstances. The guardian must present specific medical evidence about the incapacitated person's diagnosis, prognosis, pain, etc. and, if at all possible, evidence concerning the incapacitated person's wishes either prior to or during the treatment. The individuals cognitive disability should generally not be considered.

This decision will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a guardian to secure an order that would allow him to refuse life-sustaining treatment when an incapacitated person does not have an end-stage medical condition or is not permanently unconscious.

Full Article and Source:
DRN Offers Summary of New Guardianship/Withholding of Consent to Treatment Case

Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) is a statewide, non-profit corporation designated as the federally-mandated organization to advance and protect the civil rights of adults and children with disabilities.

Fostering Connections Act of 2008

A new law, The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 is designed to better connect foster children with their relatives, promote permanent families through relative guardianship, and improve education and health care for foster children.

The law provides:
* Subsidized guardianship to enable children in the care of grandparents and other relatives to exit foster care into permanency
* Kinship navigator programs to help link relative caregivers to a broad range of services and supports that will help meet their needs and the needs of the children in their care
* Notices to adult relatives of a child placed into foster care
* Options for states to waive non safety related licensing standards for relative foster parents

It also offers federal reimbursement to states for support provided to foster youth up to age 21, and requires increased efforts to keep siblings together when placed in foster care.

Full Article and Source:
Fostering Connections Act of 2008

More information:
Summary of the law

Short summary of the law

Actual text of the law

Kinship provisions

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Rule Hurts Nursing-Home Residents

The Bush administration shut off a source of information last fall about abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities that people suing nursing homes consider crucial to their cases.

The change, which affects the $144 billion nursing-home industry, was enacted with no public notice or attention.

The rule designates state inspectors and Medicare and Medicaid contractors as federal employees, a group usually shielded from providing evidence for either side in private litigation.

The restrictions affect about 16,000 nursing facilities and 3 million residents in the United States. The practical effect is to force litigants to go to greater lengths, including seeking court orders, to get inspection reports or depositions for cases they are pursuing or defending.

Eric M. Carlson, an attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center: "This change hurts nursing-home residents and their families by allowing bad practices to be kept in secret by nursing homes and inspectors. Government inspectors have the right to go into nursing homes and investigate, and they learn things that residents and families otherwise could never find out."

The new rule, which was issued in September, generally prohibits state health departments and contractors from participating in private lawsuits involving facilities that are in the federal assistance program without approval by the head of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Full Article and Source:
New Rule Enacted by Bush Administration Impedes Cases Against Nursing Homes

Arts Contest Focused on Elder Abuse

Attorney General Terry Goddard invited high school juniors across the state to participate in an arts contest focused on elder abuse.

Participants are asked to submit original posters, poems or essays that address the question, “Why should I care about elder abuse?”

Submissions must be received by 5 p.m. on March 31. Contest results will be announced in April. Contest winners will receive first, second and third place prizes of $500, $250, and $100, sponsored by Wells Fargo and Free Arts of Arizona.

Winning works will also be printed on a poster to be distributed as part of the statewide Elder Abuse Awareness campaign held to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2009.

For additional information and contest rules, go to

Contest to help elders

Caretaker Allegedly Bilked Elderly

Aauthorities said that the live-in caretaker of an 84-year-old Huntington Beach woman allegedly took out fraudulent loans in her name, bilking the older woman out of about $200,000 and putting the woman's home in danger of foreclosure.

Cindi Dee Powell, 54, has been charged with financial elder abuse, grand theft, identity theft, vehicle theft, fraud and forgery. She remains in custody.

According to police, Powell moved in with Constance Wakefield to help the woman, who uses a wheelchair, around the house and drive her to appointments. Wakefield hired Powell through a classified ad and was not aware that Powell was on probation in another elder abuse case.

Beginning in 2006, police said, Powell took out fraudulent loans on Wakefield's home and opened bank accounts in her name, using the money to buy and sell cars -- including Wakefield's.

Wakefield is now under water on her mortgage and could face foreclosure.

Full Article and Source:
Live-in caretaker charged with financial elder abuse, fraud and forgery

More information:
Caregiver suspected of taking $122,000 from woman - Worker who had cared for Huntington Beach woman since 2006 was on probation for elder financial abuse

Caretaker charged with stealing from elderly woman

System Lost Track

Shortly after Christmas, Julia Lucas got a call at home in New York from her mother's nursing home in St. Petersburg. Her mother, ailing with dementia, was getting violent and needed to move to a more secure facility.

So when Lucas wanted to wish her mother a happy birthday on March 2, she called the new nursing home. A man said she wasn't listed in her mother's file. A day later, after some frantic phone calls, a hospital chaplain called.

He said: "Do you have anyone there with you? I have something to tell you. Your mother died on Jan. 27 in the emergency room."

Lucas' mother, Anne Whitney Mataix, had been dead for five weeks. Unclaimed, she was turned over to the county, which cremated her body.

Mataix was a 65-year-old woman who led a difficult life, often on the fringes and estranged from her family. But when she died, she had lived for months in a licensed nursing home, had a daughter in contact with her caretakers and had an appointed health care surrogate.

Still, the vulnerable woman's death went unmarked by a system that lost track of the most vital details of her life.

Full Article and Source:
Call to mom at Gulfport nursing home leads to dire news: She died weeks ago

Monday, March 16, 2009

Estate Battle Rages

Her romantic watercolors and sketches of old-fashioned family farm life made Tasha Tudor a beloved children's illustrator. The clever marketing of her back-to-basics lifestyle - weaving and gardening while raising goats, chickens, and children on her New England farm - made Tudor a cult hero to craftswomen, an unconventional Martha Stewart.

But Tudor's death last June exposed a much less endearing image of the eccentric artist's own family. Three of her four children were cut out of her will almost entirely. The 92-year-old artist left her home, her copyrights and her business - called "Tasha Tudor & Family" - to one son and grandson who still cultivate her brand. The other three children are contesting the will in Marlboro Probate Court, accusing their brother, Seth, of wielding improper influence over their mother to claim an estate worth more than $2 million. Seth, in court papers, has branded the claims as a baseless attack on a valid will.

The dispute over the estate was frustratingly easy to anticipate, said Tudor's youngest child, Efner Tudor Holmes, now 60. "Some of the last words she said to me were, 'Oh, will there ever be a cat and dogfight when I die. But I don't care. I won't be here to see it."

Full Article and Source:
The fall of the House of Tudor

Lawsuit Thrown Out

A federal court threw out a lawsuit against nursing home chain Extendicare, ruling that the plaintiffs' allegations were not specific enough to form an actionable claim.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in October, alleged that Extendicare overstated the quality of its services in pamphlets and promotional materials, thereby luring elderly residents into their facilities. According to the complaint, however, once residents arrived there, they found that the service what it was cracked up to be. The suit was filed on behalf of lead plaintiff Laura Bernstein, and defined a class consisting of "all residents who lived in a Minnesota Extendicare facility from Oct. 29, 2002 through Oct. 29, 2008."

Full Article and Source:
Extendicare Suit Tossed for Vagueness

More information:
Federal Court Throws Out Class Action Lawsuit Against Extendicare

Observation Stay

Patients aren't admitted to the hospital so insurance may not cover some expenses

Judith Quinn was sure she had been admitted to the hospital. After all, she had stayed two weeks on a hospital ward, attended by hospital nurses, eating hospital food and examined by hospital physicians, after suffering a severe seizure.

But Quinn soon learned she was mistaken. The hospital's staff didn't consider Quinn an inpatient. Instead, they decided she was there for an "observation stay," a little-known category of medical care.

As a result, her Medicare coverage wouldn't pay for the oral medications she took there or for three weeks she spent recovering in a nursing home after being discharged. Only inpatients get these benefits.

Quinn's case and others like it are raising concern in some medical quarters about observation care—a step up from the emergency room but a step down from a formal hospital stay.

The number of patients affected by the classification is growing because Medicare and private insurers want only the sickest people to be treated in costly, resource-intensive medical centers.

Full Article and Source:
Hospitals' use of 'observation stay' is questioned

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Guardianship Costs - A Tragic Ending

When she had a choice, Mary Mellinger lived a simple, hard-working life -- raising scores of orphaned, abandoned and needy kids in the Middle Atlas region of Morocco, North Africa.

She mothered them, taught them, prayed with them, comforted them, disciplined them. More than 80 were in her care at one time or another -- including Daoud Sefiane, now a 48-year-old father of three, living in Milford.

"She was strict, but you always felt the love," he said. "And when she would come back from furlough in the United States, she always came back with big suitcases full of gifts for each kid."

If she had her choice, she would still be there at the Children's Haven she founded in 1953 with Irena Wenholz, helping more kids get a strong start in life, pouring her heart and soul into each.

But senility started to eat away at Mellinger's choices about five years ago. As others stepped in to help, her life took a hard turn, unfolding finally in Delaware courtrooms where more of those Moroccan-born children -- now adults -- spent three years battling over who could best care for her and manage her affairs.

Now 93, Mellinger lives on Medicaid and Social Security in a Texas nursing home, unaware of the developments that threatened her health, drained her modest savings, produced thousands in legal fees and left one of those children with a criminal conviction for financial exploitation.

Full Article and Source:
Mommy Mary's life mission - She never thought her elder days would be like this

Seeking Man Who Killed Elderly Woman

TX - Police and family member of an elderly woman killed in a vicious attack are getting closer to finding the person who stabbed her to death, but detectives say there may be someone who has the key to piecing the case all together.

On February 10, 2009 at approximately 3:54 p.m., Dorothy Hickman, 91, was attacked while watching TV inside her home at 8103 Honewood Trail. Ms. Hickman answered the door to a man claiming to be a maintenance man. He entered her apartment, uninvited, and asked her for money. When Ms. Hickman told the suspect she didn't have any money, he stabbed her more than once in the neck, took her purse, and fled on foot.

Mrs. Hickman died as a result of her injuries on Saturday, Feb 21.

The man was described as tall and thin, wearing black clothing and a black cap. He was armed with what looks like a bone handled hunting knife.

Port Arthur Police Officer Wendy Billot says this could have been anyone's grandmother.

Billot: "The fact is, she was someone's grandmother and I believe someone out there can help us solve this senseless murder."

If you have any information on this crime, please call EasTex Crimestoppers at 724-TIPS or log on to

Giving Up Parental Rights

An out-of-work widower who left 9 of his 10 children at a Nebraska hospital under the state's old safe-haven law has given up his parental rights.

Gary Staton dropped off the children last September, saying he was overwhelmed by his family responsibilities.

Court records show he has relinquished his parental rights. The step paves the way for the children to be adopted or be placed in long-term guardianship.

Staton left his children, ranging in age from a toddler to 17, at Creighton University Medical Center. His tenth child, the family's oldest, was too old to be taken in by state authorities.

Nebraska's old safe-haven law had no age limit. It was amended last November to put an age limit of 30 days.

Neb. man gives up rights to 9 kids

More information:
Safe Haven Dad Gives Up Parental Rights

Father of nine gives up parental rights

More about the Safe-Haven Law:
Finding a Fix for Nebraska's Safe Haven Law

'Safe Haven' bill advances; compromise work ahead

Neb. senators want $30 million for safe-haven bill

Children in the Mental Health Void