Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Book: "Against Her Will"

A cautionary tale of elder abuse and the system that perpetuates it. Two years ago John Wyman's mother Carol walked out of a nursing home in Rockford, Illinois. She had been placed there for the convenience of others, not for her own well-being and had suffered mentally, physically and emotionally.

When she ended up at John's home outside of Aspen, Colorado his journey began. Hairdresser by trade, rebel at heart, John took on the challenges of dealing with nursing homes, courts and family members to provide the best possible situation for his mother.

What he experienced woke him up to the inequities and injustices lurking in the systems which have been established to help our older population. He decided to share his story to make us all aware of the catastrophic possibilities that lie in wait if we don't take action to change these systems. A must read for all who may become old.

Available through Amazon

CA: Three Facilities Fined Over Patient Deaths

The California Department of Public Health has issued fines against three nursing homes in Los Angeles County after concluding that poor care led to deaths at each of the facilities.

The three nursing homes got the most serious citations possible under state law, according to the department.

Fountain View Subacute and Nursing Center in Los Angeles must pay $75,000 in connection with the 2010 death of a patient, who suffered a fatal brain injury after falling out of his bed. The health department concluded that the patient, who had a history of falls, was not properly supervised at the nursing home. When he was found on the floor, no one knew how long he had been there, according to the department.

The health department issued an $80,000 fine against the Motion Picture & Television Hospital facility in Woodland Hills. In 2010, a 90-year-old Alzheimer's patient who was in a wheelchair died a week after falling down a stairwell, according to a report. She had previously fallen down the same set of stairs."

And Downey Care Center in Downey was fined $80,000 for failing to monitor a patient's blood glucose level after she was released from a hospital in 2010. The woman died from a diabetic coma.

Three Nursing Homes in L.A. Fined Over Patient Deaths

Friday, February 24, 2012

Janet Parker: Expanding Network of Abusive Guardianships

In the U.S.A. there has been a growing problem of abuse of the elderly and disabled due to a covert system of guardianship or conservatorship. This covert system of power and control is enforced through the judicial system. It is manipulated for use by fraudsters, abusers and persons wielding undue influence for financial advantage. The wards have lost the right to complain, because they have been stripped legally of all their rights, left defenseless and subject to exploitation by the very people chosen to protect them; they are now invisible and voiceless. There is a growing trend for the courts to appoint total strangers who do guardianship duties as a business for profit. The for-profit guardian is appointed to take over the decision making process and often times given total and absolute control over the life, liberty and property of their wards.

In the U.S.A. the guardianship system offers few procedural protections, and has spawned a profit-driven professional guardianship industry that often enriches itself at the expense of society's most vulnerable members--the mentally ill. Yet despite numerous calls for reform, most states have done little to monitor professional guardians and prevent abuse and neglect. The U.S.A. federal government should play an increased role in the protection of incapacitated persons.

Full Article and Source:
Expanding Network of Abusive Guardianships

See Also:
Medical Whistleblower

NASGA's "An Open Letter to Congress and the White House"

Lawsuit Alleges Insurance Company Cheats Seniors

Santa Monica-based protection advocates Consumer Watchdog filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of an 87-year-old man and other elders they allege were bilked out of thousands of dollars by an insurance company in Pennsylvania.

Attorneys from Consumer Watchdog and the law firm of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley, LLP filed the lawsuit at the San Bernadino Superior Courthouse.

According to the suit, William Hall, of Upland, Calif., was allegedly cheated out of thousands of dollars by the Senior Health Insurance Company of Pennsylvania, or SHIP, which refused to honor the long-term care policy he had held with one interruption since 1994.

The suit charges that the company told policy holders that they needed to submit paperwork that was not required under their policies and when paperwork was submitted, did not acknowledge its receipt.

The claims are largely for in-home care services, caregivers that help old or infirm patients with daily tasks like dressing, bathing, eating and home chores.

Full Article and Source:
Insurance Company Cheats Seniors, Lawsuit Alleges

Thursday, February 23, 2012

DC Class Action Nursing Home Lawsuit to Go Forward

The District has lost an effort to have a federal judge throw out a class-action suit brought on behalf of nearly 3,000 nursing home residents.

Judge Ellen Huvelle on Tuesday rejected the city’s contention that it has complied with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) by providing services to nursing home residents who want to live in the community. The ADA requires states and local governments to provide services to people with disabilities in the most integrated setting possible.

Huvelle ruled that the District’s claims fell short of those requirements on several fronts, including that the city has no meaningful plan to integrate nursing-home residents into community settings.

The case, Day v. the District of Columbia, was brought by University Legal Services, AARP Foundation Litigation and Arent Fox LLP.

DC Class Action Nursing-Home Lawsuit to Go Forward

Probate Sharks: TX Judge Resigns After Reportedly Caught Sleeping During Testimony

A Texas special education hearing officer resigned after being caught on camera, sleeping during testimony critical to a disabled teenager's future.

Word of the resignation came just hours after Larry Craddock e-mailed FOX 26 News to decline comment on video, still pictures and witness affidavits.

"It was not short little naps. He was actually sleeping for extended periods of time," said Myrna Silver, an education attorney representing the North Texas student involved in the case.

"We dropped water bottles. We tried coughing, we tried jumbling our books to help stir him awake, but it wasn't working," said parent Donna Harvey.

Parents who engage in a "due process hearing" often expend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees fighting school districts with much deeper pockets.

Most of the time parents lose.

Texas Judge Resigns After Reportedly Caught Sleeping During Testimony
*** Our mission is to expose and remedy corruption in the Probate Court of Cook County, Illinois. We assist, educate and enlighten families of the dead, the dying, the disabled and the aged to better understand their rights in order to protect themselves from the excesses of the Probate Court of Cook County. is dedicated to networking the human element of people to people. We join together in reforming the corrupt Cook County Probate Court system.

Federal Judge Puts Internet Pioneer in Civil Lockdown

When Jeff Baron came to Washington this month, he was wearing a borrowed suit.

Once upon a time, the Internet pioneer -- who taught himself computer programming and created innovative software to register domain names -- lived the good life in a Dallas suburb.

His company, Ondova, was a cash cow, pulling in $1.5 million in profit each month.

It all started unraveling when Baron, now 44, hired some high-powered Texas attorneys to help manage his holdings, and he was approached by a potential business partner who promised to turn Ondova into the next Google.

Baron admits he was naive and failed to perform due diligence as his lawyers set up an "elaborate" network of businesses offshore and his erstwhile partner turned out to be a convicted felon who sold porn online.

After a lengthy series of legal battles, Ondova was eventually forced into bankruptcy. But it wasn't until Baron found himself in the Dallas courtroom of U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson that his real nightmare began.

At a June 19, 2009, hearing in his civil case, Judge Furgeson warned Baron that "failure to comply" with a previous court order to renew Ondova's domain names would be considered "contempt, punishable by lots of dollars, punishable by possible jail, death. ... You are a fool, a fool, a fool to screw with a federal judge, and if you don't understand that, I can make you understand it. I have the force of the Navy, Army, Marines and Navy (sic) behind me."

A shaken Baron agreed to give up half of his Internet assets to "buy peace." In 2010, he signed a Global Settlement Agreement for all outstanding claims against him. "There were 1,500 filings. I complied with the settlement agreement 100 percent," he told The Washington Examiner.

On Nov. 14, 2010, three days after Baron "mildly" objected to what he characterized as inflated legal bills, Judge Furgeson made good on his threat, issuing an ex parte order that placed all of Baron's business and personal assets, including his $1.2 million individual retirement account and a $60 million juvenile diabetes trust fund -- and incredibly, Baron himself -- into receivership. Baron's former attorney, Peter Vogel, was given "exclusive control over any and all Receivership Parties, which term shall include Jeffrey Baron."

Full Article and Source:
Federal Judge Puts Internet Pioneer in Civil Lockdown

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hospital Execs Charged in Medicare Scam for Steering Elderly Residents to Mental Health Clinics

The Houston Chronicle reported this week on a new criminal case being launched against hospital executives for running an apparently $116 Medicare scam. Our Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys know that the situation is yet another reminder that when it comes to elder neglect money truly is the root of all evil. According to allegations being made in the criminal case, a senior general hospital executive was apparently involved in a kickback scheme that bilked taxpayers out of well over a hundred million dollars in funds. The fraudulent actions sent money to patient recruiters and nursing home owners in exchange to sending those patients to mental health clinics run by the general hospital.

The charged executive managed the day-to-day operations of the hospital’s clinics. The bizarre accusations suggest that the executive also bribed “patients with cigarettes, food, and coupons redeemable at the hospital’s ‘country stores’ in order to entice them to therapy.” Of course the facility stood to gain financially from having these seniors and disabled community members use their particular services, regardless of whether they needed those services or not.

The specific charges against the man claim that, along with co-conspirators, he submitted$116 million in claims to Medicare for mental health services that were not need or not even provided. The patients were steered to the facility by paying off those who made decisions about where to send patients. In one case a recruiter was paid $5,000yearly. In another case a recruiter was apparently given $300 for every patient that he directed toward one of the clinics managed by the hospital administrator. Other allegations implicate a nursing home. Apparently, the executive paid the owner of the facility nearly $4,000 in exchange for the owner referring residents to the hospital in question.

These situations cannot be tolerated. The only way to make sure things change is to hold those who engage in these practices fully accountable. Private citizens have a role to play. When you suspect a nursing home near you is not committing the resources necessary to keep patients safe please do not remain silent. Report the situation to state officials, visit with elder advocacy group, and contact legal professionals to understand what can be done to demand changes and ultimately save lives.

Full Article and Source:
Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Blog: Hospital Executives Charged in Medicare Scam for Steering Elderly Residents to Mental Health Clinics

Families Protect Loved Ones in Old Age

Your aging mother can no longer drive and forgets to turn off the stove. It's no longer safe for her to live on her own, but taking her into your home simply isn't realistic.

For the many Americans who find themselves in the described situation, nursing homes provide the best option for elder care. Forty-three percent of Americans over the age of 65 will spend part of their life in a nursing home, according to the The United States Government Accountability Office. As the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that, by 2050, the population of Americans aged 65 and older will reach 89 million, it's safe to assume that the demand for high-quality elder care will only increase.

Unfortunately, many nursing homes and adult family homes are overburdened, leading to a lower quality of care. Cases of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes often pop up in the media.

In Tacoma, Wash., adult family home resident Nadra McSherry died in pain when her caretakers did not tell her family, doctor or nurse that McSherry had developed an infected bedsore. Bedsores are often a sign that a facility does not have enough staff to meet the number of patients, as preventing them involves moving patients every few hours, something that overwhelmed caretakers may struggle to accomplish.

McSherry's family sued the adult family home, Narrows View Manor, as well as the Department of Social and Health Services, which allowed the home to remain open despite numerous past health violations.

"Stories like Nadra McSherry are all too familiar," says Hagens Berman's Tony Shapiro, the lead attorney. "It's up to the families to take action and protect their mom or dad."

Full Article and Source:
Families Protect Loved Ones in Old Age

See Also:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

NY Lawyer Censured in Guardian Case

A Long Island attorney has been censured for signing another lawyer's name on checks from the account of a woman for whom he served as court-appointed guardian.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, signed off on a petition from the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District charging Hampton Bays attorney Kevin Gilvary with two counts of professional misconduct, according to an order published Thursday [2/16].

Gilvary was appointed in 2007 to represent Maria Murray in a hearing to determine whether Murray was incapacitated, the order said. The Suffolk County Supreme Court then appointed attorney Marina Martielli to serve as Murray's guardian, the order said, until Martielli filed a motion to be relieved of her duties.

After the court granted Martielli's motion, Gilvary was appointed interim guardian for Murray. But because Gilvary neglected to file a $300,000 bond with the court, he was unable to access the guardian bank account that Martielli had opened for Murray, the order said.

Several months later, Murray's caretaker threatened to quit unless she was paid, the order stated. Since Gilvary was not authorized to sign checks from the guardian account, he signed Martielli's name in order to keep the caretaker from walking off the job, according to the order.

Gilvary apparently signed Martielli's name to several more checks payable to Murray's caretaker, and in one case signed a check made out to cash to reimburse himself for payments made to the caretaker, according to the order.

In November 2009, Gilvary was relieved of his guardianship and was eventually charged by the Grievance Committee with two counts of professional misconduct.

While the appeals court affirmed the charges, it noted that Gilvary was "fully compliant and cooperative" with the investigation. Further, the court said that Gilvary had presented evidence of his "good character" and observed that he was "experiencing personal, family and professional problems during the period in question."

David Besso, an attorney representing Gilvary, said he thought the Second Department "showed good judgment in rendering the decision" to censure, rather than disbar or suspend, Gilvary.

Full Article and Source:
Attorney Censured in Guardian Case

MN Victim's Family Pleased with Stronger Elder Abuse Laws

It's a story we've been following for more than three years now. A case of elder abuse that meant jail time for two young women. We're now learning if they comply with probation, Brianna Broitzman and Ashton Larson won't serve their final 60 days in jail.

Ever since their very high profile arrest, changes have been made to strengthen penalties in Minnesota.

Jan Reshetar's mother-in-law was a victim of this abuse, "You want to bring up a happy memory of your loved one and what you get is the last 3 and a half years of horror," she said. It's something she can't get out of her mind. Her mother-in-law was sexually abused at the Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Albert Lea in the months leading up to her death.

"When we first got into this whole situation we thought that justice would be swift and righteous but it doesn't work that way," said Reshetar. Brianna Broitzman and Ashton Larson received little jail time and community service, but avoided life-long penalties, like registering as sex offenders.

"That is something that we have wanted from the very beginning. Granted those are things that are after the fact but we would like to see harsher penalties," said Reshetar.

Six months ago a new law went into effect, which increases the penalty. "What it allows us to do is if a vulnerable adult is sexually abused, that abuse will have to be registered on the predatory offenders list," said (R) Rep. Tim Kelly back in May 2011.

Full Article and Source:
Victim's Family Pleased with Stronger Elder Abuse Laws

Monday, February 20, 2012

"It's Just a Lack of Concern for a Human Being"

Advocates for a Northwest Portland businesswoman, who cannot speak for herself and has people controlling her own estate, suspect she is the victim of elderly abuse.

Sunday, Sue Lee's supporters took their case to the streets in front of the business she used to run on Northwest 23rd Avenue.

Lee ran the Orientale Motif Shop for more than 50 years and lived above the business with her husband. That all changed when Lee suffered a stroke in 2008 that left her in a coma.

Lee’s supporters said she’s been unable to get her power of attorney rights back, despite being able to handle her own affairs. They told KATU News no one has accurately tallied the sale of items from Lee’s former shop and the conservator of her estate is not working in her best interests.

“It’s just a lack of concern for a human being. Sue’s a human being,” said Lee’s friend Peggy Abernathy. “She has rights… they’ve just totally been destroyed. You know, quality of life, just everything is gone.”

Supporters signed a petition Sunday to return control of Lee’s life to her, but so far a Multnomah County judge has backed the decisions made by the conservator and guardian of Lee’s estate.

Full Article, Video and Source:
It's Just a Lack of Concern for a Human Being

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy Proposes IL Nursing Facilty Reforms

On Thursday, Illinois nursing home reform advocates and an Illinois House lawmaker heaped both scorching rhetoric and proposed legislative reforms on the Illinois nursing home industry at a press conference on Chicago’s north side.

“Illinois has about the worst nursing home record in the country,” said Emily Byrd with the Jane Adams Caucus.

To illustrate Byrd’s point, a registered nurse assistant who works in a Chicago-area nursing home, Joan Stanley, riveted the press conference attendees with her description of a patient tragedy that struck in August 2011.

“One of my wheel-bound patients caught fire,” said Stanley, whose voice cracked retelling her story. “He had been smoking. We frantically tried to put out the flames, but the nursing home had no fire blankets. He burned to death.”

Nursing home owner responsibility coursed through a legislative proposal, House Bill 5668, outlined by State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

“As more residents are aging, nursing homes are a vital part of the care that seniors receive and their families rely on, and it is totally unacceptable that they have responded to our trust with not only incompetence, but life-threatening disregard for basic safety,” said Cassidy.

Full Article and Source:
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy Proposes Illinois Nursing Home Reforms

Legal War Begins in Michael Jackson Estate

A legal war erupted Friday over earnings from Michael Jackson's estate with a former manager claiming a 15 percent stake and the singer's executors seeking to block any payments to the former adviser.

Attorneys for Jackson's estate and Tohme R. Tohme filed dueling cases over the adviser's claims that along with Jackson's mother and three children, he is entitled to a sizable share of the singer's post-death earnings. The estate has earned more than $300 million since Jackson's June 2009 death.

Jackson's estate claims Tohme used undue influence to get Jackson to sign several deals that lined his pockets and that he improperly gave away some of the singer's property. The contracts involved a refinancing of Jackson's debt related to Neverland Ranch and a producer's fee that Tohme negotiated for himself for Jackson's series of planned comeback concerts in London.

Tohme's lawsuit, filed in Santa Monica, California, claims he was influential in reviving Jackson's career after he was acquitted of child molestation charges. His lawsuit states he worked diligently to create "a financial and career strategy that would provide stability for Jackson and his children."

Full Article and Source:
Jackson Estate, Ex-manager Sue Over Earnings Share

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Judge Patrick Ferchill Upheld in Covington Case

On February 9, the Court of Appeals for the Second District affirmed Judge Ferchill’s ruling removing Frank and Chila Covington as guardians of their Down Syndrome daughter. The judge was good enough to notify me of the affirmation and send me his comments, from which I excerpt:

The Covingtons, in this context, are free to reject all psychoactive medications for themselves, but they cannot refuse to have their daughter, a court monitored ward under guardianship, even EVALUATED for the potential prescribing of such meds. Keep in mind that after on the evaluation. Follow up reports show that the meds have ameliorated the hearing of “voices”, the imaginary person/s, the anti-social behavioral issues and severe headaches. HER best interests have been served.

Your original article has caused me considerable angst. It is forever in Google. I am asked about it, just recently by a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 40 years. Please consider contacting public officials to give them an opportunity to present their side before you paint with such a wide brush. Based on the Covingtons or stories about them, and the allegations of a disgruntled attorney, Mr, Shelton, whom I and other judges had sanctioned, you said that I and some attorneys ran a “racket”. That is the word I object to the most.

[B]efore he breaks his arm patting himself on the back, I should note for him that the appeals court’s written memorandum raises very important questions about how he acted in this case.

The appeals court notes in three places a tendency by Judge Ferchill to act without regard to the law.

Page 3: “In July 2009, the trial court appointed a guardian ad litem for Ceci without notice to the Covingtons.” [my bf]

Page 4: “After a hearing and without notice to the Covingtons, the trial court found that the Covingtons cruelly treated Ceci and neglected to main her as liberally as her means permit.” [me again]

Page 4: “The trial court also found that the Convingtons ‘have both been proven to be guilty of gross misconduct and gross mismanagement in the performance of their duties as Guardian’ and ordered their removal without notice.” [me]

The appeals court notes that it did not address Judge Ferchill’s failure to comply with Texas 761(c) — on the question of not notifying someone when their case is before the court — because the Covingtons’ appeal was not based on it. By mentioning it three times, the appeals court is strongly implying it would have addressed this issue if it had been asked to.

The failure to give the Covingtons their day in court is the most disturbing aspect of the case.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Patrick Ferchill Upheld in Covington Case

See Also:
Father: "I Do Call It Gestapho Justice"

Caretaker Sentenced For Ripping Off 91-Year Old Client

When we first met Leonard Onesty last October he was still reeling from the betrayal of the woman he had trusted with his care and his money for the past two years.

"Disgusted and busted, that's all I can tell you," he said at the time.

Now 91, this World War 2 vet was mentally sharp, but having just lost a leg, he was mostly bedridden and dependent on Sherry Crawford.

She kept him, he said, isolated from friends and family. When people would call to check on him, she'd tell them he was sleeping or hint he had dementia.

She disconnected the phones in his Sun Valley home and, he says, never left him alone when they left the house, at last until the day she dropped him off for an appointment at the V-A Hospital and disappeared.

She told him she was going for a walk while he saw the doctor. Three hours later he was still waiting for her.

"She didn't show up and I started to worry about it and said, 'what is this?'"

He was about to find out. Checking with his bank later that day he would learn he had all of $60 dollars left, along with a pile of bills she had told him she'd paid.

Investigators would later put his total loss at $119-thousand dollars.

Full Article and Source:
Caretaker Sentenced For Ripping Off 91-Year Old Client