Saturday, July 3, 2010

Judge Tosses Risperdal Suit

Johnson & Johnson has prevailed in a Pennsylvania case over its antipsychotic drug Risperdal. A Philadelphia judge tossed the suit against the drugmaker, which claimed that J&J's Janssen Pharmaceutica unit buried the drug's safety risks to persuade the state to spend millions to provide it to patients covered by government-funded health programs.

Judge Frederica Massiah-Jackson decreed that the state hadn't produced enough evidence to show that Janssen marketed Risperdal improperly, despite a week's worth of testimony in the case. Pennsylvania had sued to recover $289 million in alleged overspending on the antipsychotic drug.

As Bloomberg notes, the Pennsylvania case was the first of 10 state-government suits over Risperdal marketing to go before a jury. The company is also fighting hundreds of patient lawsuits that advance similar claims: that Janssen soft-pedaled Risperdal's risks and exaggerated its benefits.

"We're pleased with the judge's decision," J&J spokesman Greg Panico said. "The evidence presented by plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that Janssen had committed any fraud on the Commonwealth. Janssen has always been committed to ethical business practices.

Full Article and Source:
Philly Judge Tosses Risperdal Fraud Suit

Caregiver Burnout

The number of Americans needing nursing home care is expected to increase to 27 million people in the next 30 years. Now that the average cost of a nursing home stay is nearly $85,000 a year, more families are caring for loved ones at home. Caregivers are putting their own health at risk, in order to help others.

Many families are doing everything they can to keep loved ones out of nursing homes, and in their own homes

"If anything can help a person stay in their own familiar surroundings, it's well worth it," 91-year-old Helen Coplan told Ivanhoe.

There are 44 million adults in the United States caring for an elderly or disabled person without pay.

"It's very stressful," Sara Czaja, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, explained. "Caregivers may neglect their own health because they’re devoting all their time caring for their loved one."

Studies show up to 70 percent of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression. Caregivers are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack, diabetes and arthritis compared to non-caregivers the same age. And women who spend nine or more hours a week caring for a sick or disabled spouse double their risk of heart disease.

Studies estimate if we had to pay for the care many relatives are giving at home it would add up to $257 billion a year.

Full Article and Source:
Caregiver Burnout

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Most Frightening Abuse of Power

Dorothy Wilson is 85 years old and suffers from early dementia. She is not a stroke victim or in a wheelchair, and she does not need to be washed or bathed. She cleans and cooks for herself.

I applied for guardianship in December, 2008, but my siblings fought this. In March, 2009, a geriatric “care” manager and guardian were assigned to my mother and she was declared incapacitated. An order was issued for an aide in her home 24/7, but soon arrangements were made for Mom to stay with family on weekends. Restricted pickup and return times were ordered, and although I requested relief many times, but the judge refused to allow it. His decision was based on the care manager’s assertion that 9am on a Saturday to pickup and 9am on a Monday to return is the only time the agency, Home Companion Services of Port Jefferson, will allow.

One aide soon became Mom’s friend and confidant. On September 15, 2009, the care manager went to my mother’s house with a new aide that does not drive, and ordered the other aide to leave or she would call the police. Mom insisted she did not want Cheri to leave and she was threatened as well. The guardian claimed she did this for my mother’s “safety” although nothing had happened.

The court has refused to allow my mother to stay with family additional days when someone is available, which is what she wants, and would save her thousands of dollars in agency fees. No one listens to her or respects her wishes. After Mom complained to me and her attorney about the violation of her privacy and HIPPA rights, her attorney advised the judge via letter on October 30, 2009. False allegations were then made against me by the guardian and the care manager. On November 10, 2009, the guardian mailed a letter to me stating that I violated the court orders prohibiting anyone from discussing costs with Mom and she imposed supervised visitation.

Mom’s attorney requested a hearing, which was scheduled for Thanksgiving Eve. Despite the fact that I told the truth, the judge believed the lies of my siblings, the aide and the attorney. Since I was acting pro se, my witness was not allowed to testify. The guardian arranged for my siblings to take Mom for the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend, preventing my family and I from seeing her for the holiday. On December 3, the judge ruled that while there would be no supervised visitation, he stated that I had absolutely no credibility. This was based on the fact that my mother wrote letters pleading her case and I was accused of dictating them to her because my sister advised the guardian that my mother “cannot write.”

My mother was unhappy with the “visitation” arrangements that the guardian made for Christmas. She wrote a letter and called her. After my mother did that, the guardian sent me a letter refusing to allow my mother to visit with me and her grandchildren until 5PM on Christmas Day, instead allowing my siblings to take her for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

This is the most frightening abuse of power I have ever seen. It is virtually impossible to fight people like this unless you are very wealthy.

Dorothy Wilson, NY Victim

Documents Produced

Public Administrator Lynn EnEarl produced the paperwork demanded by District Judge Michael Gibbons, but elder advocates are still seeking to get EnEarl's guardianship of Sharon Hicks, 83, revoked on Tuesday.

Gibbons thanked EnEarl and her attorney Mike Rowe for filing the documents. Hicks has been a ward of the county for four years since she was hit by a truck in a crosswalk at Lake Tahoe. Appearing in court on Tuesday, she vented against EnEarl, saying she wanted her gone.

Documents Produced

See Also:
Judge Demands Guardian Produce Records

Lawyer Indicted Third Time for Meth

A courtroom drama stretching out over the past year took a new twist this week when a Ravenswood attorney was indicted for the third time on meth-related charges.

A Jackson County grand jury indicted lawyer Jessica Sullivan, 32, on 16 felony counts of possession of substances to be used as a precursor to manufacture methamphetamine, three counts of attempting to operate a clandestine lab and four counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.

Prosecutors have accused Sullivan of dropping off "care packages" of precursor material at a designated spot inside a Ravenswood bar. Co-conspirators allegedly would use those packages to manufacture methamphetamine in a lab located in an apartment above the bar.

The case has bounced in and out of the court system for a year - with Sullivan allowed to continue practicing law in the past few months.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer Indicted Third Time for Meth

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Class Action Lawsuit Filed in California

In order to assure that nursing home patients are adequately cared for, some states such as California have legislated minimum hours of care provided to patients on a daily basis. While the number is of course somewhat arbitrary and varies substantially from patient to patient, the patient care requirements do provide somewhat of a floor with respect to minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes.

In other words, the minimum daily time requirements really translate to the number of staff nursing home owners must hire to legally operate their facilities.

A class action lawsuit filed in California against Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc., alleges that corporation failed to provide patients at their facilities with the minimum staffing levels set forth in California law.

According to Michael Thamer, a lawyer representing the nursing home patients in this case, "The message from he top is simple: state beneath the budget." Thamer goes on to say, "This corporate greed is what has kept the defendant from adequately staffing their facilities."

Full Article and Source:
Class Action Lawsuit Against Skilled Healthcare Seeks Damages For Chronic Understaffing Of Nursing Homes

Judge Orders House Returned; Nixes Marriage

Give her back her house! That was the judge’s decision in the case of a mentally ill woman who was duped out of her home after marrying and transferring the deed to her new husband. She had lived in the Throggs Neck house all of her life, prior to finding herself homeless last year.

After reaching out to former assemblyman and attorney Stephen Kaufman who arranged for a pro bono lawyer, a court found Geraldine Panattieri, 58, mentally incapacitated on Tuesday, June 15. It voided her signing over her house to Joseph Lillard, a younger man who she befriended and married after her longtime companion died.

Bronx Supreme Court Judge Wilma Guzman stated in her legal decision that Panattieri was not able to make major life decisions, including her marriage to Lillard in October 2008 or signing documents that gave him ownership of the two-family house in May 2009.

She ordered the deed transferred and her marriage to dissolved, and appointed Family Service Society of Yonkers her legal guardian. Kaufman called the outcome a major win for the community.

Full Article and Source;
Judge Orders House Returned; Nixes Sham Marriage

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Judge John L. Phillips - Justice Has Not Been Served

Justice has not been served in the case of my dearly departed friend, the Honorable Judge John L. Phillips, known to all as the Kung-Fu Judge. Upon learning of his candidacy in 2001, Brooklyn D.A. Joe Hynes filed an ex-parte (secret action) to seal up all of Judge Phillips' assets. Twelve apartment buildings and two movie Theatres were part of the millionaire judges' empire. The Court then appointed Hynes former Chief of Staff, Harvey Greenberg, as Judge Phillips' "Guardian."

The transcript of the proceeding to condemn Judge Phillips is chilling. The reason presented to the court for a guardian was a videotape presented by a prosecutor from the Brooklyn DA's office, Steven Kramer, who conducted a raid on Judge Phillips home along with three confederates. A.D.A. Kramer produced a videotape of the raid at the hearing, and the chief piece of evidence to appoint a guardian was that Judge Phillips had "campaign posters" in his house. These facts are not in dispute. I've read the transcript.

Judge Phillips was then remanded to a nursing the BRONX, and the race for District Attorney was over.

Full Article and Source:
Judge John L. Phillips - Justice Has Not Been Served

Former Judge Larry Seidlin Still Milking Anna Nicole Smith Case

Former Broward circuit judge Larry (Cryin') Seidlin is still milking the Anna Nicole Smith case for everything he can.

Seidlin made the national media rounds last week to hype his new book, "The Killing of Anna Nicole Smith," and to increase his visibility as he tries to land a syndication deal for a new court TV show, "Psychic Court."

The man has no shame.

His performance in the six-day hearing to decide where Smith should be buried after her February 2007 overdose death at the Seminole Hard Rock Resort in Hollywood was bad enough.

But his latest turn as moral policeman, with the book decrying "enablers" who coddle and exploit celebrities for their trappings and wealth, is especially cringe-worthy.

Full Article and Source:
Former Judge Larry Seidlin Still Milking Anna Nicole Smith Case

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

NASGA Member on Guardianship Abuse

Dear Union County Freeholders,

My husband and I want to thank Freeholder Kowalski for stating that guardianship abuse in Union County will not be tolerated.

Based on Freeholder Kowalski's closing comment on the June 24, 2010 - meeting we would like to bring to your attention that guardianship abuse is occurring right in the Union County Courts, in Judge John F. Malone's courtroom. He is bringing down full plenary guardianships without due process for the alleged ward.

The most disturbing part of the matter is that Assignment Judge Karen Cassidy is fully aware that he is not following the rules of the court and is violating the judicial canons and is not reporting his unethical\illegal behavior as she is mandated to. Instead of protecting the most vulnerable and their families she is exploiting them.

Judge Cassidy is protecting a disturbing practice in the Union County Chancery Court.

Full Editorial and Source:
Guardianship Abuse

Brother Accused of Stealing From Disabled Sister

His brother begged a judge not to approve Brent A. Carney as trustee of a trust fund that their late mother established to care for their deaf, mentally handicapped sister.

Carney is mentally ill, has a criminal record that includes theft and slapping their sister and could not be trusted to administer the fund, older brother James Michael "Mike" Carney told the judge.

Nonetheless , Muskingum County Probate Judge Joseph A. Gormley approved Brent Carney in May 2008. Gormley did so after requiring Carney to obtain a $500,000 bond.

Two years later, the trust money is gone. The approximately $150,000 in the trust that their mother left for Lisa Anne Carney Ferguson is drained. Only $162.04 remains, records show.

A Fairfield County grand jury indicted Brent Carney on June 4. He is charged with theft from an elderly or disabled adult by deception, which is a first-degree felony, and with complicity to commit failure to provide change of address, a fourth-degree felony.

Mike Carney is furious with his brother and with the judge.

"How low can you go, man, to stick it to your own family member?" he asked. "He deserves to do some hard time for what he has done."

Mike Carney said he plans to file a complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court's disciplinary counsel against Judge Gormley for approving Brent Carney as the trustee despite abundant evidence indicating that it would be a bad idea.

"His actions were inexcusable. That was poor judgment," Mike Carney said.

The judge said he tried to respect the mother's wishes in naming Brent the trustee and tried to protect Lisa's interests by requiring the bond. He said he didn't think Brent would be able to get bonded and was surprised when he did.

"Despite his shortcomings, he was able to get a bond," Gormley said. "It's unfortunate that he has apparently misappropriated the funds, but Lisa can now look to the bonding company and say, 'Replace my money.' So, it's not as gloomy as it looks."

The family was unaware of the trust fund's depletion until recently, when a Fairfield County investigation into the production and use of counterfeit checks led law enforcement first to Whitacre, then to Brent.

Brent Carney remains in the county jail in lieu of $250,000 bond. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in August. Fairfield County Prosecutor David Landefeld refused to comment on the case because it is pending.

Mike and Greg Carney have told Lisa that Brent stole her money. She is upset and angry, Mike said, but doesn't fully comprehend what happened.

"She doesn't understand the amount he really took," he said.

Full Article and Source:
Brother Accused of Stealing From Disabled Sister

Monday, June 28, 2010

Marie Long Wants Her Money Back

Attorneys for an 88-year-old widow left penniless by her trip through Maricopa County's probate court are asking that the old lady's money be returned until a new trial is held – one presided over by a judge who doesn't play favorites.

In their 70-page motion, attorneys for Marie Long lay out a pattern of treatment in which Commissioner Lindsay Ellis sided with and even lauded the attorneys and fiduciaries who wound up with all of the widow's money while ignoring requests from the attorneys who were trying to protect her assets as they dwindled to nothing.

The pattern of “blatant partiality, bias and hostility” culminated in Ellis giving a highly improper heads-up to the favored attorneys this spring, sending them an advance copy of her ruling that approved hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees they collected from Marie and lambasted the old lady's legal team.

But their motion for a new trial goes beyond her eye popper of a case and calls into question that coziest of probate practices, the one that allows lawyers and fiduciaries to collect fees first and seek approval (which they virtually always get) later.

“It is a long-standing practice that invites unfettered financial abuse of the incapacitated, incompetent and the elderly,” Marie's attorneys wrote. “This practice must stop.”

Marie was worth $1.3 million when she suffered a stroke in 2005 and came under the protection of probate court. Today, she's destitute and depends on taxpayers for support.

Full Article and Source:
From Probate Files, Elderly Widow Wants Her Money Back

See Also:
Probate Judge's E-mail Raises Eyebrows

Woman Convicted of Stealing From Elderly Aunt

A Lakeland woman faces at least 34 months in prison after being convicted of financially exploiting an elderly relative with dementia.

A jury found Jo Marie Weeks guilty on all three counts: exploitation of an elderly person, scheme to defraud and theft. Circuit Court Judge Dennis Maloney scheduled Weeks' sentencing hearing for Aug. 6.

Under state sentencing guidelines, Maloney would have to offer a reason for departing from the minimum sentence of 34 months, said a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office. Weeks, who has no previous felony convictions, could receive a maximum of 60 years in prison.

Weeks, 32, and her husband, Eric Weeks, were arrested in December on charges they siphoned more than $100,000 from Lelia Boyd, Jo Marie Weeks' great-great aunt, who lives in a Winter Haven assisted-living facility. Boyd, 89, is mentally incapacitated, a doctor and a nurse testified during the week-long trial.

Full Article and Source:
Lakeland Woman Convicted of Stealing From Elderly Aunt With Dementia

See Also:
Trial Begins in Exploitation Case

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Judge Demands Guardian Produce Records

Public Administrator Lynn EnEarl has been accused of violating state law by not conducting inventory of her charges' property when she took over their cases or filing annual reports with the district court on their financial and health status.

District Judge Mi chael Gibbons ordered EnEarl, who is seeking re-election, to file an inventory and provide accounting in an order issued Thursday.

Gibbons set a 1 p.m. Tuesday hearing seeking an inventory of the property of Sharon Hicks, 83, who has been under the public administrator since 2006, and to determine whether Hicks should continue under EnEarl's guardianship.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Demands Guardian Produce Records

See Also:
Advocates Vs. Administrator

Florida Lawyer Arrested

A Kissimmee lawyer hired to manage money for an Alzheimer's patient and his wife used their credit cards to pay for a trip to Mexico, office furniture and other personal expenses, Osceola County investigators said.

Linda Littlefield, 38, was arrested at the Sheriff's Office, where she went to meet with detectives. The charges are grand theft and credit-card fraud. The Florida Bar also is investigating a complaint about the case.

Deputies say the man's family hired Littlefield in 2006 to set up a $40,000 trust. She told them they needed to give her their credit cards and monthly bills so she could pay them with the trust fund, investigators said.

The man was in his mid-80s when he died in February 2009. Last January, his wife began receiving statements from her credit-card company saying she owed nearly $15,000 on one of the cards. There was no balance when she hired Littlefield, detectives said.

An investigation showed Littlefield made five unauthorized purchases, one on each of five cards, sheriff's spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain said. The total spent was nearly $54,000. Littlefield also used $7,900 of the trust to make payments on the credit-card bills, she said.

Full Article and Source:
Investigators: Kissimmee Laywer Used Client's Credit Cards to Pay for Mexico Trip

Family Members Accused of Theft

A Wake County mother and son have been arrested and charged with exploitation of the elderly after more than $54,000 was withdrawn from an 85-year-old family member's bank account, according to court documents.

Janet Hood of Wake Forest uses a wheelchair and was living in a care facility at the time police say the money was taken, according to a search warrant issued for bank records.

Betty Jo Hood, 65, and her son, Richard Allen Richardson, 38, were charged with one count each of exploitation of an elder adult, according to court documents.

Full Article and Source:
Family Members Accused of Theft