Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Fight of Richard Rainwater's Life

The renowned dealmaker built a fortune using little besides his wits. Now he's funding a crash program to stop the disease that's destroying his mind.

In March 2009, Dr. Bruce Miller, head of the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California's medical school in San Francisco, received a call from a doctor in New York City, asking him to see a patient named Richard Rainwater.

A behavioral neurologist and scholar of dementia, Miller had never heard of Rainwater, a silver-haired Texas billionaire and a legend in the world of dealmaking. But he was accustomed to such calls. Decades of research into the human brain had made him a go-to man for the rich and powerful with neurological mysteries.

PSP is a fast-moving, degenerative brain disease, with no treatment and no cure. The typical life expectancy from diagnosis: 4 1⁄2 years. "In the world I live in," the doctor told Rainwater's friends and family, "this is the worst disease I see."

Of all life's cruelties, it seems especially tragic that Richard Rainwater would suffer from this affliction. Rainwater is a self-made billionaire, a Texas incarnation of the Horatio Alger story. But he hasn't built a chain of discount stores or a computer company or even a private equity firm to leave behind. No, Rainwater's business genius has always been his energy and imagination -- his uncanny ability to see where the world is going and find a way to exploit that turn. It was his personal magic that made big deals happen: his ability to pick the right opportunity, the right partners, the right CEO, and then to provide inspiration. The billion-dollar edifice he built was all in his head.

And now it's crumbling away.

Today Rainwater requires 24-hour care. He is unable to walk unassisted. He has trouble swallowing. His speech is almost impossible to understand. "Of anybody I ever met, Richard was the most charismatic, the most outgoing, most hands-on, huggy, high-fiving, jumping-up-and-down, vivacious executive," says Michael Eisner, whom Rainwater helped install as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. (DIS) "And then to have him relegated to this condition that incapacitates him? It's the irony of human existence."

In the months after Rainwater's diagnosis, his 73-year-old brother, Walter, with help from the billionaire's private security team, served as his primary caregiver. Round-the-clock nursing care was later brought in, and Rainwater's three children rallied around him, with his youngest son, Matthew, relieving Walter at his side.

In March 2011, the issue of who calls the shots -- for Rainwater and his money -- moved into court. Rainwater's estate lawyer filed a petition in probate court in Fort Worth, seeking to declare him incapacitated and requesting the appointment of Matthew as his legal guardian. Under Texas law, a spouse is first in line to fill such a role. But Rainwater had signed a written designation expressing his preference for his son's appointment.

Ultimately, Moore says, everyone agreed to the selection of Matthew, who was granted limited powers after being named temporary guardian of his father's "person and estate." The guardianship resolved shared family concerns that someone might encourage Rainwater, in his diminished state, to rewrite his will. It also clarifies who would be allowed to make immediate medical decisions for him, should a crisis develop.

It is unclear precisely how contentious the probate case has been. To keep the matter confidential, it was filed under Rainwater's initials, titled "In the matter of Guardianship of R.E.R., an Incapacitated person." Citing family privacy concerns, a judge ordered the entire case file sealed, and no one directly involved is eager to talk about it. But a docket sheet obtained by Fortune shows substantial activity, listing multiple contested motions, several court hearings, and an order subjecting Rainwater to an independent medical examination.

Full Article and Source:
The Fight of Richard Rainwater's Life

'The Guardianship of Weller'

2011 Ohio 5816
In the Matter of: Guardianship of Nicholas L. Weller.
Appellate No. 24337.
Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery County.

Rendered on November 10, 2011.

NEIL F. FREUND, Atty. Reg. #0012183, and KELLY M. SCHROEDER, Atty. Reg. #0080637, Freund, Freeze & Arnold, Fifth Third Center, 1 South Main Street, Suite 1800, Dayton, Ohio 45402-2017 and CAROLYN MUELLER, Atty. Reg. #0065533, Hall & Mueller, LPA, 3040 Presidential Drive, Suite 222, Fairborn, Ohio 45324, Attorneys for Appellant.
DAVID M. RICKERT, Atty. Reg. #0010483, 110 North Main Street, Suite 1000, Dayton, Ohio 45402 and DAN R. WARNCKE, Atty. Reg. #0061799, and JULIA B. MEISTER, 425 Walnut Street, Suite 1800, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, Attorneys for Appellee.

{¶ 1} Appellant Nicholas Weller appeals from a decision of the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Probate Division, establishing a guardianship over his estate. Weller contends that the evidence does not support the trial court's finding that he was incompetent to manage his estate.
{¶ 2} We conclude that this appeal has been rendered moot by the May 31, 2011 entry finding Weller restored to competency and terminating the guardianship. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed as moot.
{¶ 3} On March 31, 2010, Nicholas Weller suffered a stroke at his residence in Montgomery County. He was taken to Kettering Medical Center for treatment. He was released from the hospital after a ten-day stay. He was checked into an assisted living facility by Janet Ward, a friend of Weller and Weller's deceased wife. Weller refused to remain in the assisted living facility and returned home, where Ward arranged for in-home care. It was determined that Weller suffered from aphasia; or the inability to express himself or to understand the words of people speaking to him.
{¶ 4} Thereafter, Ward filed an application for appointment as guardian over Weller's person and estate. Weller hired his own attorneys and proceeded to contest the need for the guardianship. Following protracted litigation and a hearing, the Probate Court determined that Weller was competent as to his person, but found him incompetent as to his estate. The Probate Court appointed attorney Christopher Cowan as guardian of the estate.
{¶ 5} On November 12, 2010, Weller appealed from the order subjecting him to a guardianship of his estate. Just prior to the August 2, 2011 oral arguments in this appeal, this court became aware that the Probate Court had issued an order Terminating Guardianship on May 31, 2011. Following argument, we permitted the parties to file supplemental briefs on the question of whether the entry terminating the guardianship rendered this appeal moot. Supplemental briefs on the mootness issue have been filed by Weller and the applicant, Janet Ward.
{¶ 6} Before we address Weller's assignments of error, we must first consider the issue of whether the probate court's order terminating the guardianship rendered this appeal moot.

In RE Guardianship of Weller

Friday, November 18, 2011

Federal Suit Filed in Fight Over Gary Harvey's Care

A Horseheads woman who has sought guardianship of her brain-injured husband filed a civil suit this week claiming his civil rights have been violated.

Sara Harvey filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court for the New York Western District in Rochester on behalf of her husband, Gary Harvey, described in court papers as a neurologically and physically incapacitated adult. She is seeking a jury trial.

Sara Harvey had sought legal guardianship of her husband, but the county Department of Social Services was appointed as his legal guardian indefinitely.

Harvey has said her husband has suffered under significantly inadequate care, and she fought in state Supreme Court for guardianship.

Among its charges, the federal suit alleges rehabilitation was not sought for Gary Harvey; his wife was not kept updated on his medical treatment or condition; he was deprived of an independent second medical opinion and evaluation; he was deprived of liberty without the due process of law; he was not protected against abuse, neglect, exploitation, conflicts of interest, fiduciary fraud and breeches of fiduciary duty; and he was not provided with family rehabilitative programs and discharge plans.

Sara Harvey is seeking a second medical opinion, unrestricted visits with her husband, removal of a guard in her husband's room during visiting hours, access to his medical records, returning him home, restoring his rights and seeking an unspecified amount in damages, according to the lawsuit.

Listed among the defendants are Gary Harvey's court-appointed lawyer, his court-appointed guardian, his designated guardian and the residential service provider, according to the lawsuit.

Full Article and Source:
Federal Suit Filed in Fight Over Horseheads Man's Care

Press Release: Gary E. Harvey Case Goes to Federal Court


Date: November 16, 2011
Horseheads, New York

Sara Harvey has been battling over five (5) years for her disabled husband's (Gary Harvey) rights with Chemung County, who has guardianship of her husband, and has taken her plight to the Federal court in Rochester NY. Mrs. Harvey’s allegations submitted to the federal courts are:

• The county agencies have allowed St. Joseph’s hospital in Elmira NY to bill her private health insurance approximately $1 million a year for her husband’s medical care. Mrs. Harvey is being denied access to her private insurance as to what those services are allegedly being provided to her husband.

• Mr. Harvey is being denied benefits from his private health insurance, and is being discriminatorily institutionalized for over 5 years by the county guardian, leaving her husband in the most restrictive environment, against what would be Mr. Harvey's wishes.

• Mr. Harvey is being unjustly denied visits from family and friends and is kept in isolation behind closed doors for over 5 years. Mrs. Harvey can only visit her husband six hours a week and is unjustly supervised by an agency hired by the county that was paid by her husband - and now being paid by tax dollars. The guardian has installed a security camera in Gary Harvey's hospital room which raises the question to whom is paying for the unwarranted intrusion.

• Medical decisions about her husband are made by lawyers and other non medical professionals.

• The county, hospital and Mr. Harvey are being represented by same law firm which places her husband at a disadvantage for being a "cash cow" for the county’s private clients. What is scandalous, immoral and unethical is one of the county attorneys sat on the board of St. Joseph hospital. The assigned case worker is employed by the county agency (“Adult Protective Services”), and the hospital where her husband is a patient has authorized over 35 procedures that are not routine. Mrs. Harvey believes they have never obtained an order of access to her husband.

Case ID 11CV6563

See Also:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

TN Lawmakers Warn Judges to Change Their Ways!

Lawmakers warned members of the state judiciary today that if they don’t take steps to improve the way they investigate and discipline ethical violations by judges, the General Assembly will do it for them.

“There’s so many good judges out there,” Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory said at a hearing to discuss whether the Court of the Judiciary and other judicial commissions should be retained or done away with. “The problem is we’re not addressing the bad judges, and that’s what concerns me.”

The hearing featured testimony by several irate litigants who complained of mistreatment by Tennessee judges.

“The testimony hear today, if one-tenth of what these people are saying is true, there are gross miscarriages of justice going on here,” Turner continued. “If we don’t address this, I’m telling you, the judiciary system as we know it today will change drastically if you don’t take care of yourself.”

Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Jeff Bivins said the state’s judges hope to do just that. Bivins said they are in the process of drafting legislation to address lawmakers’ concerns about the Court of the Judiciary, the judicial disciplinary panel that conducts most of its work behind closed doors.

Full Article and Source:
TN Lawmakers Warn Judges to Change Their Ways

Shelby County TN Probate Court Audit Reveals Oversight Issues

Shelby County Probate Court is the subject of the county's most recent internal audit.

The scathing report revealed the court is suffering from a pervasive lack of money oversight, including losing track of funds, unlocked cash drawers and unsealed confidential records.

The court is charged with the task of distributing assets to people who can't manage their own estate - be they deceased, senior citizens or children. It was particularly daunting when internal auditors found a list of oversight problems at high risk for loss or misappropriation of court funds.

Paul Boyd became clerk last September and is now trying to clean up the mess.

"We're doing what we're supposed to do and I have no fear of anything," said Boyd.

Auditors did not accuse Boyd or anyone in his office of any wrongdoing, but they have serious changes in store, including account reconciliation.

In one case the audit found a $128,000 difference between the balance in one investment account and the balance the court had on record. The audit says the court also lost track of money in some of their 635 accounts, and they did not keep up with interest earned on some of their $21 million in holdings.

Auditors also uncovered only four percent of the checks the court paid out had the clerk's signature and the charge and cash receipts drawer had no lock.

The audit also found the court system had access weaknesses. Former administrators could still log in to the computer system and sealed cases and mental health records were left unattended at times.

Boyd said the documents are now locked away and past administrators are now locked out.

"We need the audit to come in to provide assurance to the public that nothing is stolen and everybody's doing what they're supposed to be doing," said Boyd.

Unlike the honest errors in Probate Court, clerks across the Mid-South have made news for dishonest behavior in recent months. Shelby County Chancery Court Clerk Brandon Gunn pleaded guilty to stealing court funds in excess of $1 million. It is still unclear how the money will be recouped.

Germantown Municipal Court deputy clerk Janet Donnell confessed to theft of city funds, but Germantown will not say how much she stole. Auditors in Germantown are going through the records to get a better handle of the losses there.

General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson is suing the judges who removed him, after he was indicted for allegedly coercing staff members to contribute to his re-election campaign.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Court Audit Reveals Money Oversight Issues

See news video

Read the Shelby County Probate audit

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Funds Available for Neglected Senior Citizens in McLean County

McLean County senior citizens who might not be able to care for themselves will soon have access to new support resources, thanks to a grant from the Retirement Research Foundation.

Karen Zangerle, director of Providing Access to Help (PATH) and the local 211 hotline, told WJBC on Monday she just received news of the funding.

“We’ll get $50,000 starting in January to help with self-neglect cases among seniors,” she said.

Zangerle said the agency will use the money in two main areas: recruiting attorneys to take on guardianship cases and training a local therapist to help with hoarding cases.

“Our No. 1 goal is to keep elderly people in their homes,” Zangerle said.

Full Article and Source:
New Funds Available for Neglected Senior Citizens in McLean County

NC Man Accused of Taking Mother's Savings

Authorities have charged an elderly Midway Park man with emptying $200,000 out of his mother’s bank accounts.

Charles Edward Farnell, 71, was charged Monday by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office with two counts of exploitation of an elderly and disabled adult. His bond was set at $30,000.

Farnell is accused of having his name added to bank accounts belonging to his 94-year-old mother Marie Gregory, removing funds and closing out the accounts, Sheriff Ed Brown said in a news release.

Farnell took his wheelchair-bound mother to First Citizens Bank and Marine Federal Credit Union on July 1 and later removed funds in excess of $200,000.

Brown said Gregory has had several strokes and suffers from dementia.

Full Article and Source:
Man Accused of Taking Mother's Savings

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Judge Accused of Nepotism and Abusing Power From the Bench

The state's judicial disciplinary agency has turned to a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia to prosecute the chief judge of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit for a series of alleged ethics violations.

Former Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears will prosecute Chief Superior Court Judge Amanda F. Williams on charges filed late Wednesday by the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

The JQC accused Williams of "willful misconduct in office" and "tyrannical partiality." Sears has teamed up with former Georgia Attorney General Michael J. Bowers to present the ethics case against Williams to JQC members, who will serve as both judge and jury. Sears, who stepped down from the high court in 2009, is an attorney at the Atlanta offices of Chicago firm Schiff Hardin. Bowers, who has handled other prosecutions for the JQC, is a partner at the Atlanta offices of Balch & Bingham.

Sears and Bowers on Wednesday signed off on a 31-page notice that includes 12 counts alleging that Williams violated judicial canons by jailing defendants indefinitely and then lying to the JQC about the practice.

The JQC notice also accused Williams of improperly allowing members of her family to litigate cases in front of her, allowing her social and political relationships to influence her judicial conduct, and improperly endorsing a local candidate for district attorney.

The charges claim Williams issued ex parte orders on substantive legal matters without the knowledge or input of all parties involved in disputes, held hearings in chambers without a court reporter present, improperly jailed people who appeared before her, demonstrated an open bias against defendants and used "rude, abusive and insulting language" in court.

Sanctions—which would be handed down by the Supreme Court based on the recommendation of the JQC panel—could range from a public reprimand to removal from the bench. Davis said Williams, if she chooses to fight the charges, could face a hearing in January.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Accused of Nepotism and Abusing Power From Bench

Ellis County 'Judicial Corruption'

Midlothian resident/business owner John Margetis discusses Ellis County judicial corruption.

Source: | John Margetis Part 1

YouTube: | John Margetis Part 2

Monday, November 14, 2011

Judges, Lawyers Use Guardianships to Prey on Elderly

Think your well-tended nest egg will protect you from the depredations of old age? Don't count on it.

Little has changed since the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled almost a decade ago that Probate Judge Kaye Christian abused her power by ordering retired economist Mollie Orshansky, creator of the federal poverty line, removed from her sister's care in New York and placed in a District guardianship against her will. 

Even multimillionaires cannot prevent a judge from appointing a total stranger to take complete control of their affairs -- and banish family members who object. That's what happened to five-term D.C. Council member Hilda Mason and her husband, Charles, a Harvard graduate who traced his lineage back to the Plymouth landing. 

Despite Charles' $22.5 million fortune, this power couple ended their lives in squalor. Blind, wheelchair-bound and suffering from diabetes and skin cancer, Charles spent his last days in dirty clothing and worn-out shoes, with fingernails so long they curled around his fingers. 

"He looked like a hobo," one witness told The Washington Examiner. His frail wife suffered a broken collarbone when one of her "caregivers" ran her over with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. 

At the time of Hilda Mason's death in 2007, debris and broken furniture littered every room of the couple's once-stately Shepherd Park home. The roof leaked and the house was infested with rodents and insects. 

As attorneys helped themselves to the couple's assets, Episcopal Senior Ministries reported that "there appears to be no individual or group that is currently responsible for the cleaning/condition of the house."

The same thing is happening to another 91-year-old woman, a former D.C. Public Schools employee forced into a guardianship after Maryland lawyers characterized her daily walk as "wandering." "Some lawyers took all my money," she told us, adding that she can't access her own pension or Social Security benefits, even to buy herself an ice cream cone.

Full Article and Source:
Judges, Lawyers Use Guardianships to Prey on Elderly

FL Task Force Pushes Some ALF Reforms, Delays Others

After years of miserable deaths in assisted-living facilities, a governor’s task force is pushing Florida’s elected leaders to give the state more powerful tools to fight the worst abusers, saying more drastic action is needed to protect frail residents.

After hours of debate, the special panel voted to go to the Legislature to ensure that rogue homes are hit with the harshest penalties, including banning new residents at homes that commit serious offenses, and punishment for ALFs that retaliate against residents for complaining to elder advocates.

The task force’s meeting on Tuesday in Miami-Dade — the final session of the group appointed by Gov. Rick Scott — is expected to be the first step toward major changes in Florida’s law governing an industry that has come under increasing fire over reports of egregious abuse and poor enforcement.

“This is about vulnerable people who are pretty much at the mercy of others,” said Martha Lenderman, a member of the task force, after the session. “And some of them end up at pretty appalling places.”

Throughout the session at Florida International University, task force members sparred over a range of crucial proposals intended to bring greater oversight.

ALF owners on the task force voted unanimously against a recommendation from a state lawmaker that homes allow so-called “granny cams” to let relatives view their loved ones while they’re in their own rooms. ALF owners and employees in the audience shouted “kill it” as the panel began to vote.

The panel also rejected — with industry representatives voting as a unified front — several recommendations that would have increased inspections of homes by the Agency for Health Care Administration, drawing applause from the crowd of mostly ALF owners and employees.

The task force’s recommendations follow the release of a legislative interim report that calls for even more stringent measures to crack down on rogue facilities, including increased inspections, fines and empowering regulators to immediately shut down homes where residents were found dying of abuse or neglect.

A Miami Herald investigation in May found 70 cases of death by abuse and neglect in homes since 2002, but the homes were never closed.

Full Article and Source:
Task Force Pushes Some ALF Reforms, Delays Others

See Also:
Neglected to Death - The Series

Search the ALF Database

"Attorneys Above the Law"

How much evidence do you need to see or witness to believe this nation ought to address those with twisted tongues who practice law and corrupt the political landscape then want confidentiality clauses in the end to put a lid on their actions?

When Dennis Schuelke hired a lawyer to recover money stolen by a fraudulent company, he expected justice. What he got was anything but.

"Attorneys Above the Law"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Miracle or Masterpiece of Misconduct?

This blog has laid out, clearly and convincingly, how the law is routinely subverted in Judge Randy Kennedy’s probate court. Specifically in regards to conservatorship. This is going on in rogue probate courts across the land, but Kennedy is textbook concerning the racket. Very predictable in his “willy-nilly-ness” and biased results. If you want to know how he will rule, check his campaign contribution file. We have presented cases, using court documents, to expose how certain lawyers, no matter what their legal savvy (or lack thereof), are not only rubber stamped, but facilitated and protected by Kennedy. Divide them and conquer, while they are being flanked. Develop a spine and you are invincible. It’s not the spine referred to as in courage, though courage is required. The most important requirement is purity of motive and the legal system is encapable. The intent of our founders is laughed at in the secrecy of the judges’ chambers.

Judge Randy Kennedy and his court of crooks has brought the entire judiciary into almost irreparable disrepute. Something has to be done. We plan on getting that job done. We are the people and we cannot, we must not, be bought.

Full Article and Source:
Miracle or Masterpiece of Misconduct?

Jamie Spears Asks Judge to Extend His $15K per Month Conservatorship Fee Indefinately

Britney Spears dad, Jamie Spears, got a boatload of money for managing the Femme Fatale Tour ... TMZ has learned.

We obtained court documents which reveal the judge in Britney Spears' conservatorship case awarded Jamie $537,987.37 as a base pay for his services on the tour. In addition, the judge allowed Britney's personal manager, Larry Rudolph, to give Jamie 20% of his 10% commission because Jamie did so much on the tour. Jamie does not reveal the exact amount he gets from Rudolph, but in all Jamie will rake in a 7-figure payday.

And, Jamie is asking that the judge extend his conservatorship fee of $16,000 a month indefinitely.

But here's the real story ... Jamie did the job of 5 people on the tour, and even with Jamie's fee Britney saved more than a million bucks in salaries.

Britney Spears' Dad Scores Small Fortune For Femme Fatale Tour

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker's Elder Abuse Bills Pass MI Senate

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker's bill proposing the creation of a "Silver Alert," the equivalent of the missing-child Amber Alert system, but for senior citizens is among a package of bills that passed the Michigan Senate today [11/3/11] aimed at safeguarding the state's elder citizens.

The package of bills also propose increasing penalties for people who embezzle funds from vulnerable adults and creating reporting requirements for suspected abuse and neglect or knowledge of abuse and neglect in nursing homes.

The elder abuse bills, "will make a huge difference for the safety and integrity of older adults' ability to remain safe and secure," said Vicki Martin, associate director of Senior Services Inc. in Kalamazoo.

Full Article and Source:
Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker's 'Elder Abuse' Bills Pass Michigan Senate