Monday, July 23, 2012

The Issue: Can Court-Appointed Conservators Be Sued?

Daniel Gross, 85, was suffering from a leg infection when he visited his daughter in Waterbury, Conn, in 2002 and had to be taken to a local emergency room. After Gross spent nine days in the hospital, a hospital social worker asked the Connecticut probate court to appoint a conservator for him.

The judge agreed, and from there, things spun out of control. Gross was sent to a nursing home and kept there for more than 10 months, unable to freely visit with his family. At one point he was attacked by his roommate, a convicted felon.

An attorney won his release, but before Gross died in 2007, he sued his lawyer, the conservator, and the nursing home. According to legal briefs, his attorney failed to challenge the conservatorship despite Gross' request, and his conservator failed to oversee Gross' financial affairs.

The federal District Court threw out the lawsuit in the spring of 2008, saying that Gross' conservator and his lawyer could not be held liable for their actions because they were appointed by a probate court. The case then went to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which concluded in October 2009 that the case should be resolved in state court. In April, the Connecticut Supreme Court sided with Gross. The high court did carve out an exception - that immunity could be granted to a conservator if a probate court approves his or her actions. But it also ruled that the conservator can be sued for harm or loss to the person under conservatorship.

The case is expected to be referred to the trial court where it began. A jury will then decide whether to hold Gross' court-appointed lawyer, the conservator and the nursing facility liable.

Full Article and Source:
AARP Bulletin: The Issue: Can Court-Appointed Conservators Be Sued?


Thelma said...

A persuasive - not controlling - decision, but very important for victims of probate corruption.

Berta4949 said...

God bless dee king for fighting for her fathers rights and not giving up...this paves the way for us in corrupticut (Connecticut)

StandUp said...

I was so happy to open up my AARP bulletin and find the Daniel Gross case featured! I hope AARP continues to report on unlawful and abusive guardianships and conservatorships.

Anonymous said...

It proves one thing, that each judicial entity is "referring" and "referring" to the next instance and back, because they do not want to deal with it. Hoping the litigants give up, or run out of money. As for AARP, it is the first time that I know of, that they have taken an interest in an Abuse case.,. I was a member for 20 years, and my pleas for help, did not even bring a response from either the local office or their national headquarters.

Rudy said...

This case has been made complex by the seemingly simple decisions by the various courts.
For instance, when does a conservator have to seek court permission for an action? This question goes to the decision that if the probate judge gives permission the conservator is immune.
During the Colorado Legislative Audit Committee hearing on Colorado Audit #2132 (2011) a legislator, Representative James Kerr, asked the Administrator of the Colorado Judicial Branch if a conservator has to ask court permission to sell the protected person's property. The Judicial Branch administrator, though a former judge himself, was at a loss. S member of the Colorado Auditor's office interrupted, stating the conservator does not have to ask court permission. That answer can be construed to mean the conservator already has permission by law, according the the Colorado Auditor's office, the office that did the audit.
This, in turn means conservators have immunity without a judge authorizing actions.
Another example, in Colorado is: A conservator has the legal right to cancel the "protected" person's Will, made before the conservatorship, and therefore immunity in doing so, even without a judge's approval.
There a similar laws in different states, and the federal government needs to do more than bow out.

Sue said...

AARP is helping with awareness. Without awareness, this stays in the dark. Keep shining the light on America's dirty secrets. Certainly the good citizens will be against the schemes and scams of the protection .... industry....unregulated, unmonitored, it's a free for all so be aware and take immediate actions to protect yourselves from a lifetime of losing all your rights and all you own.

Great job Dee and your loyoal support system you did the unexpected, you were successful your Dad is at peace knowing you are giving him a voice.


Your ProbateShark can point out many Court-Appointed Conservators in the Cook County Probate Court just waiting to be sued. Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster,

Anonymous said...

Stay strong Dee ~~ Sue is right you did the unexpected while the majority of complainants are unable to continue for many reasons:

#1 being financial devestation due to legal fees, court costs and related expenses

#2 physcial and mental harm to the complainant leading to

#3 ill health and aging issues

The perps have this all figured outthat's why they the protection racket owns most of the judges and they run the courtroom whatever they ask for they will receive.

Thank you!

stop guardian abuse said...

I would love nothing more to see than one of the probate predators held acountable for their actions! It is time for change and Dee is clearly going to be one of our Change Agents...the system preying on our elderly and vulnerable citizens is sadly a "symptom" of what is a much larger problem....What has happened to our nation??

Anonymous said...

The link to the AARP Bulletin story isn't showing up.

Holly said...

Similar but not exact is a sad story of Rita Denmark.
My physically healthy, 76 yr. old mother was domiciled and resided in Pennsylvania with Advance Directives in place when she took a trip to Florida. It has been 5 yrs now and she has never returned. WHY??? Because she fell prey to Officer's of the Volusia County Florida Court including Professional Guardian, Jetta L. Getty owner of Young at Heart Elderly Services in Port Orange FL.

Mother's approx. $470,000.00 estate was converted into legal fees, guardian fees, rent and drug charges among other plunder in less than 5 years. Based on documents Getty filed in Volusia County Court, it appears our mother is now supported by the the Florida tax payers regardless of the documented FACTS that mother was a PA domicile, she had a beautiful home to live in PA and she wanted to return home. Getty wouldn't let her go!

Florida tax payers should be outraged demanding accountability!

NOT ONE of the Officers of that FL Court involved in this case and being paid from mother's estate, EVERTY told the Court mother was just visiting! Couldn't make that kind of money telling the whole truth could they??

Currently Jetta Getty has our mother in an undisclosed location refusing to tell us where she is.

Any questions, contact me at:

Linda Kincaid, MPH said...

Thank you to AARP and to NASGA for making this story public. So very many elders are vicitims of conservators and court appointed attorneys. Once appointed by the court, there is essentially no oversight or accountability. Victims are abused and their estates are pludered with impunity.

Bennie said...

What a precedent this will set. Watch out guardians for profit!

Betty said...

Dee, I'm just so very happy for you and for your father! Bless you and know that he smiles at what you've done in his honor.

honeybear said...

I feel like this victory is going all the way and it will be used in guardianship case after guardianship case. Victory after victory!

Thank you Dee King for never letting go!

Anonymous said...

This article should make conservators a little more scared to commit any intentional wrongdoings..... to know that they aren't completely immune when appointed by the court. I know this definately gives me hope in my case.

Also, Kudos to you Dee King for not giving up and fighting this through and through. You are a true hero to us all.

Too old to think straight said...

Conservators. Immune? Is prosecution of conservators a disease? Why has prosecution of conservators been considered a disease? It seems to me professional court appointed fiduciaries who commit crimes with impunity, is the disease. By not prosecuting court appointed criminals, shouldn't we expect the disease spread and turn into a pandemic?