Saturday, March 12, 2011

Elderly Lady Fights Off Jewel Shop Robbers


Court-Ordered Hysterectomy Put on Hold

When and under what circumstances does a judge have the right to order medical treatment for an adult who doesn’t want it?

Courts in Montana are currently wrestling with the question in a case with a highly unusual set of facts.

A trial-court judge in Missoula ordered a woman to undergo a radical hysterectomy last Thursday in order to treat her cervical cancer. The woman, identified only by her initials, L.K., appealed the order, arguing she is a deeply religious woman who wants children and shouldn’t be made to submit to a radical hysterectomy.

On Monday, the Montana Supreme Court delayed the lower-court’s order to give time to allow the woman to file an appeal.

The backstory goes like this: Last September, after L.K.’s cancer diagnosis, a doctor sent a letter to the Missoula County attorney’s office expressing concerns that L.K. might not be able to make medical decisions on her own. A petition to appoint a temporary medical guardian was filed in November. On Feb. 11, the temporary medical guardian signed a consent form for L.K. to have the radical hysterectomy.

L.K. testified that she did understand she had been diagnosed with cancer and did understand the risks of dying without treatment. Her attorney argued that what the state characterized as delusions are actually L.K.’s deeply held religious beliefs.

Full Article and Source:
Court-Ordered Hysterectomy Put on Hold for Now

Friday, March 11, 2011

Attorney Paul Housch and the Robert Thurman Conservatorship

According to sources, our investigation and posting of the Robert Thurman case has created some activity. Guardian ad Litem, David J. Callahan, III, has a motion before the court to examine the fees billed to Robert Thurman by Paul T. Housch and John Clemmons. Duh! Considering they have billed Thurman in excess of a $$$Million dollars in attorneys fees. The outrageous activity in this case BY THE LAWYERS and JUDGE KENNEDY is stupifying. Please refer to previous posts on the Robert Thurman case.

The unfortunate thing is, Callahan’s request will be heard in Kennedy’s court.

Full Article and Source:
Paul Housch and the Robert Thurman Conservatorship

Read "Report of Guardian Ad Litem Regarding Fee Requests of Paul T. Housch and John E. Clemmons"

Hearing Planned for Jerry Eckwood Conservatorship Battle

Former NFL running back Jerry Eckwood, 56, appeared last week in Davidson County probate court to deny accusations that he requires a conservator to manage his finances and help care for himself. Judge Randy Kennedy said a one-day hearing to get testimony from Eckwood's friends, family, caregivers and temporary conservator is necessary.

The Brinkley, Ark., native suffered multiple concussions during his career, which the NFL believes caused the dementia he was diagnosed with last year. He also suffers from a pre-existing mental illness, his daughter in Brentwood, Jerval Watson, said in court records.

Worries about Eckwood surfaced after a representative from the NFL Player Care Foundation came to Tennessee last year to see Eckwood. The foundation helps former players get benefits. After the visits, the foundation asked the court to appoint a conservator, which he has resisted. Eckwood lives in an assisted-living facility in Franklin.

In the next couple weeks, a hearing date will be set for Kennedy to hear testimony. It probably will be within the next few months.

Full Article and Source:
Hearing Plannd for Former NFL Player in Conservatorship Case

See Also:
Jerry Eckwood, Another Contested Conservatorship

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Better Bank Account

In a recent post about the sometimes contentious issue of protecting seniors who are losing the ability to manage their finances, I wrote about a daughter who was able to intervene in her mother’s financial exploitation because she was a co-signer on her bank accounts.

That’s typically a first step taken when, or before, family members suspect problems. “The joint bank account is everybody’s default estate-planning tool, because it’s widely known and commonly used,” Charles Sabatino, a lawyer who is director of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging, told me in an interview. “But it’s less than ideal.”

A better alternative, he suggested, is the little-known multiple-party account without right of survivorship, which banks sometimes call a “convenience account.”

“If you intend another person to help you with bill paying and so forth, that person has the authority to access the account, to make deposits and withdrawals,” Mr. Sabatino explained. But this kind of account legally obliges the helper to act as the older person’s agent, serving his or her interest. “They can’t use the money for their own benefit, and creditors of the other party can’t lay claim to it,” he said.

Plus, with no right of survivorship, any money in the account at the older person’s death becomes part of his or her estate, to be divided in accordance with a will or the law. “It’s safer and will avoid conflict among heirs,” Mr. Sabatino said.

Full Article and Source:
A Better Bank Account

Elderly Woman Defrauded of Her Life Savings

A Granville County couple has been found guilty in an insurance fraud scheme to steal an elderly woman's life savings.

Creedmoor Police say the elderly victim tried to purchase a money order from her bank on Jan. 7, 2010, but was told she didn’t have enough in her savings account. Bank officials told her that Aaron Pittman, 56, of Louisburg, was a joint holder on her account.

However the victim said she only knew Pittman as a preacher and insurance salesman who knocked on her door five years prior.

The victim said she thought she was purchasing a life insurance policy from Pittman, but instead signed an annuity contract. Pittman gained access to the victim's savings and transferred $50,000 to the annuity, then changed the beneficiary and ownership to his wife, Mildred Dew, 58 of Nashville.

Full Article and Source:
Elderly Woman Defrauded of Her Life Savings

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eight Petition for Guardianship for John Q. Hammons

As KOLR/KSFX first reported Friday, eight people have come forward regarding the care of John Q. Hammons.

They're petitioning for the courts to intervene and put all health decisions into the care of a Greene County worker.

The petition calls out Jacquie Dowdy, Hammons' longtime employee and current CEO of John Q. Hammons Hotels. She's currently in charge of directing Hammons' healthcare.

The petitioners accuse Dowdy of keeping Hammons in involuntary seclusion in Springfield. It's a treatment his friends say needs to be evaluated.

The future of Hammons' health care will go through a probate courtroom. the judge's main charge: to find out if the 92-year-old is incapacitated.

"If they lack the capacity to be able to make good, informed, safe decisions for themselves, then we get appointed as guardian," says Christian County Public Administrator Ken Davis.

Davis says a public administrator's only interest is the well being of a person, which for Hammons, will be heard on March 22nd.

The petition does not deal with Hammons' finances or his company's finances -- only his healthcare.

Full Article and Source:
Hammons Update: The Ends and Outs of Guardianship

See Also:
Friends of John Q. Hammons File Petition for Guardianship

Hammonds' Friends Seek Answers on Eve of his 92nd Birthday

Read the Petition for Guardianship

Senate Aging Panel Blows Whistle on Overdrugging Dementia Patients

Pharmaceutical companies view the elderly as a lucrative market. However a panel of experts at the recent Senate Aging Committee forum decided to speak up. Over-medication occurs far too often in those diagnosed with dementia, the panel warned, and as baby boomers age the problem will only worsen.

One reason overmedication occurs, per this panel, is family members, caregivers, and nursing home workers often misinterpret patients' complaints about physical ailments as unruly or aggressive conduct. To manage their behavior, such patients are administered antipsychotics they don't need.

About five million patients are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. "Those in this field have a feeling we're headed in a very fast train toward the end of a cliff," stated Patricia Grady, PhD, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research.

Director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Patricia McGinnis, demanded nursing homes be held "accountable" for the drugs they administer. "The way anti-psychotic drugs are used in nursing homes is a form of elder abuse," she told the forum. "Instead of providing individualized care, many homes indiscriminately use these drugs to sedate and subdue residents."

Full Article and Source:
Senate Aging Panel Blows Whistle on Overdrugging Dementia Patients

Mother Joins Daughter in Jail for Stealing From Grandmother

The mother of a Pottstown-area convicted thief is about to join her daughter in jail after she too admitted to stealing from the same woman, an elderly Towamencin relative.

Sharon Speidel, 66, of Vineland, N.J., was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to three-to-12-months in the county jail, to be followed by six years’ probation, after she pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received in connection with using her 91-year-old mother’s credit cards to rack up $47,680 in fraudulent purchases while her mother was living at the Dock Woods Retirement Community in Towamencin between 2007 and 2009.

Judge Joseph A. Smyth ordered Speidel to report to jail April 1 to begin serving the sentence. Speidel, who is currently looking for a job to help pay restitution, is eligible for the jail’s work release program during her incarceration.

“It’s not simply about money. It’s about a violation of trust,” said Crocker, indicating the 91-year-old victim, who recently passed away, was a mother of 10 and grandmother of 26 who saved her money so she could live comfortably in a retirement community and not be a financial burden to her children.

“She was very family oriented and was a great mother. At the moment when the victim actually became dependent, and the roles reversed, that’s when the defendant took advantage,” Crocker added.

Full Article and Source:
Mother Joins Daughter in Jail for Stealing From Grandmother

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Disney Grandson at Forefront of Arizona Reform

Forty-year-old Brad Lund is in the middle of a probate court battle in Maricopa County fighting against family members who are trying to take control of his life and money.

“We're fighting back, said Sherry Lund, Brad’s stepmother. “We're fighting for our son's rights.”

Brad's parents, Sherry and Bill Lund are fighting relatives who are trying to declare Brad "incapacitated" and take control of his money.

And Brad has a lot of it. He's the grandson of Walt Disney.

“I'm angry. Our lives have been devastated. The stress has been immense,” Sherry said.

The Lunds hired several attorneys to help Brad keep his money and continue living on his own.

One of those attorneys is Joel Sannes.

In November 2010, Sannes found himself at the center of a probate court controversy.

A judge ordered Sannes arrested for contempt of court because Sannes refused to answer a judge's questions about who the attorneys were that coordinated with him on one of their motions.

Sannes said that information fell under the attorney-client privilege.

A sheriff's deputy handcuffed him and took him to a holding cell.

“I've never been subject to any proceeding like this before. It was highly unusual,” Sannes said.

Brad has spent about a million dollars trying to stay out of probate court.

In addition to attorneys such as Joel Sannes, his family hired former state legislator turned lobbyist, Laura Knaperek, to try and change state law.

“It just appears that the court is a rubber stamp, that there really is no accountability there, and that they aren't holding folks accountable,” Knaperek said.

Knaperek's goal is to stop what she calls, "rampant financial exploitation and abuse" of vulnerable adults.

“They're taking all their money and they're left with nothing in their estates and the state then has to take care of these folks,” said Knaperek. “The reality is that the probate court is not doing its job.”

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Disney Grandson at Forefront of Arizona Reform

See Also:
Testimony Against HB2424

Testimony in Favor of HB2424

Arizona: SB1499 vs. HB2424

State lawmakers are weighing competing proposals that would reform Arizona's Probate Courts, and at least one stark choice confronts them: whether to create ongoing oversight of judges by the Legislature.

Both bills promise to change the way Probate Courts conduct business and rein in sometimes enormous fees charged by lawyers and private fiduciaries appointed to manage the care and finances of incapacitated adults.

Senate Bill 1499, supported by judges, fiduciaries and their lawyers, would impose new rules that would require fiduciaries to submit budgets, create fee guidelines, and require that services and costs benefit vulnerable adults under the court's protection.

It would leave all oversight of probate with the Arizona Supreme Court and individual judges. Judges have been criticized in recent years for allowing costs in cases to spiral out of control.

House Bill 2424, championed by a group of activists who say they were victimized by the system, would impose sharper mandates, including establishing limits on legal and fiduciary fees, requiring fiduciaries to provide a monthly accounting and subjecting judges to civil penalties for failing to protect a ward's rights.

It would create a legislative-review panel that takes citizen complaints and makes an annual report to the governor and other state officials. The panel would not have power to enact changes except to set minimum training standards for probate judges.

Some judges and lawyers worry the approach would politicize the judicial process. They also contend the bill was written partly to help heirs of Walt Disney who are embroiled in a bitter Probate Court battle.

Among supporters of the Senate bill are Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch and Maricopa County presiding Judge Norman Davis.

Supporters of the competing House bill, which is sponsored by Rep. David Burnell Smith, D-Carefree, say it is the one that achieves real reform.

"Our bill works from the bottom up. Theirs is top down . . . and would keep total control in the court," said Laura Knaperek, a former state representative and co-author of the bill. "Our bill helps real people, and it fixes the problems in the court."

Full Article and Source:
Competing Arizona Bills Target Probate Court

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Than 90% of Nursing Facilities Employ Workers With Criminal Record

More than 90 percent of nursing homes employ one or more people who have been convicted of at least one crime, federal investigators said Wednesday in a new report. In addition, they said, 5 percent of all nursing home employees have at least one criminal conviction.

The report was issued by Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, who obtained the names of more than 35,000 nursing home employees and then checked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to see if they had criminal records.

“Our analysis of F.B.I. criminal history records revealed that 92 percent of nursing facilities employed at least one individual with at least one criminal conviction,” Mr. Levinson said. “Nearly half of nursing facilities employed five or more individuals with at least one conviction. For example, a nursing facility with a total of 164 employees had 34 employees with at least one conviction each.”

Full Article and Source:
Study Finds Criminal Pasts of Nursing Home Workers

Download Report (OEI-07-09-00110)

KY: Two Bills to Protect Elderly Pass General Assembly

Two measures aimed at protecting elderly and vulnerable adults won final approval Friday from the General Assembly.

But with only three days left in the current legislative session, a bill to create a registry of people who abuse adults — a priority for advocates for the elderly and disabled — remains stalled in the Senate.

House Bill 101, to create a registry similar to the one the state maintains for child abusers, is still before the Senate Judiciary Committee. And Sen. Tom Jensen, the London Republican who is chairman of the committee, said he isn’t sure whether it will pass this session.

He said Senate leaders are still trying to determine which bills to pass in the remaining time available.

Advocates argue that an adult registry would better protect those who, because of age or disability, are especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by caregivers. Even though the session is nearly over, they are still working on behalf of HB 101.

Full Article and Source:
Two Bills to Prevent Elderly Abuse Get Final OK

See Also:
KY: Bills to Curb Nursing Home Abuse Faltering

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Medical Exam Ordered for Ailing Singer Etta James

A Southern Californial judge has ordered an independent medical evaluation of ailing Etta James after her son's attorney contended that the "At Last" blues singer could be in "very serious danger" under the care of a live-in doctor.

The 72-year-old James suffers from dementia, leukemia, kidney problems and other ailments. Her son's attorney, James E. Deering Jr., said at a court hearing that Dr. Elaine James, who is not related to the singer, put feeding tubes into James' stomach at home - a procedure that should have been performed in a hospital, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

A report by a confidential investigator that was released to attorneys Thursday raises "significant questions" about whether Etta James is receiving proper medical treatment in her home in the Woodcrest area of Riverside County. Superior Court Judge Thomas Cahraman ordered a court-appointed attorney representing the singer's interests to arrange for independent pysicians to examine the singer and review her medical charts.

Full Article and Source:
Medical Exam ordered for Ailing Singer Etta James

GAO Report Finds Elder Abuse on the Rise

A rising number of elder abuse cases threatens to overwhelm inadequately staffed adult protective service agencies in many states, according to a report released on Wednesday [3/2/11]by the federal Government Accountability Office.

At a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Kay Brown, director of education, work force and income security at the accountability office, testified that state agencies also were seeing increasingly complex cases involving multiple types of abuse. Yet funding for state-level adult protective services agencies — which Kathleen Quinn, executive director of the National Adult Protective Services Association, described as the “boots on the ground in the fight against elder abuse” — is not keeping pace.

In the report’s survey, 25 of the 39 responding states reported that total funding for adult protective services over the past five years decreased or remained the same. As a result, staffing and training have suffered at state agencies handling elder abuse cases, she said.

“If you want to work at Starbucks, you have to go through 40 hours of training before you make your first latte,” Ms. Quinn told members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “But we will send an A.P.S. person out in some jurisdictions — because they have no money — right out of college, and hope they learn on the job.”

Ms. Quinn and other witnesses called for more federal leadership and coordinated efforts to help stem elder abuse.

Full Article and Source:
The New York Times - The New Old Age