Saturday, July 11, 2015

Judge Grants Conservatorship for Eagles Co-Founder

A judge today established a temporary conservatorship over Eagles co-founder Randy Meisner, saying he was worried that the musician’s longtime substance abuse problems could cause him to harm himself.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cunningham also ordered both sides to mediate a possible solution to their differences.

Cunningham noted that a psychiatric report by Dr. David Trader showed Meisner was vulnerable to the undue influence of others. The judge instructed Trader in May to prepare the mental capacity report, and delayed until today a decision on whether to appoint a temporary conservator.

He named Frumeh Labow, who has a lengthy background in social work, to fill the role pending a hearing on Sept. 29 on whether the conservatorship should be made permanent.

Cunningham’s ruling also includes an order that Meisner receive 24-hour assistance from a caregiver.

“We’re obviously pleased,” said Troy Martin, an attorney for James Newton, a longtime friend of Meisner who filed the petition to place the 69- year-old bassist under a conservatorship. “He obviously has mental impairments and needs the protection of the court.”

Martin said Meisner’s suicidal thoughts once prompted him to say he wanted to kill people with an AK-47 and then take his own life.

Labow will make medical decisions on behalf of Meisner, but the judge did not give her the additional power sought by Martin and Newton to also have her oversee his finances.

Martin argued in favor of the more expanded conservatorship, saying changes were recently made in the Meisner family trust giving Meisner’s wife, Lana Rae Meisner, more authority that she previously had.

Meisner and his lawyers objected to the appointment of a temporary conservator. Lana Meisner walked out of the courtroom in protest while Cunningham was making his ruling.

Newton and Martin allege that Lana Meisner has done little to help her spouse of nearly two decades battle addiction issues, primarily involving alcohol, but also including cocaine.

Martin included in his court papers a declaration from a nurse, Marla Dodd, who said she has known Meisner for about a year and that she and her husband, Bobby, are longtime fans of the Eagles.

Dodd stated that on April 14, Lana Meisner left a voice message in which she said in a slurred voice that she used cocaine and worried that Dodd’s husband, a police officer, might arrest her for doing so.
“You know, I do it, but I’m a functioning person,” Lana Meisner said, according to Dodd.

Lana Meisner also said her neighbors were spying on her and that the night before, there were two children in her back yard, one of whom was wearing a clown suit, according to Dodd.

Meisner’s court-appointed attorney, John Rogers, and his private lawyer, Bruce Fuller, both said they have talked to their client and found him to be lucid. They said he does not need anyone to look after his personal and financial needs.

Before today’s hearing, Fuller filed court papers asking that Lana Meisner be named her husband’s temporary conservator instead of Labow if the judge determined he was in need of one. That petition also will be heard in September.

Meisner’s son said that he, too, is concerned about his father’s health. In a sworn declaration, Dana Scott Meisner claimed his stepmother is “providing (his father) with the alcohol that is slowly killing him” because she believes she can more easily “influence and manipulate” her husband when he drinks.

He also accused his stepmother of trying to isolate the musician from family members since the two married in the mid-1990s.

“This is a pattern with Lana,” according to Dana Meisner. “Ever since she has been married to my father, she has thrived on conflict and has attempted to create conflict within the family.”

The Eagles were founded in 1971 by Meisner, Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Bernie Leadon. Meisner co-wrote and sang the hit, “Take it to the Limit.”

--City News Service; Image credit Asylum Records

Full Article & Source:
Judge Grants Conservatorship for Eagles Co-Founder

Joni Mitchell’s health better, but judge extends conservatorship

Joni Mitchell performing in 1983

A Los Angeles judge Wednesday extended a conservatorship over Joni Mitchell, but noted that the singer has made “remarkable progress” in her recovery since being found unconscious in her home in late March.

“That’s extraordinary,” Superior Court Judge David Cunningham said when apprised of Mitchell’s improved condition by the entertainer’s court- appointed lawyer, Rebecca Thyne.

Mitchell’s longtime friend, Leslie Morris, will fill the role as the singer’s permanent conservator until another hearing on July 8, 2016.

In May, Cunningham named Morris, of Sherman Oaks, as temporary conservator, giving her interim authority to oversee Mitchell’s care, but not her finances and business interests.

Morris declined to comment after the hearing.

“I have nothing to say,” Morris said.

Mitchell was not present for the hearing.

In court papers filed Wednesday, Thyne said Mitchell’s health is on the mend.

“While (Mitchell) has made great progress toward recovery, the capacity declaration of (neurologist Paul Vespa) indicates that she lacks capacity to make informed medical decisions,” lawyer Rebecca Thyne wrote. “I agreed that (Mitchell) still needs assistance with such decisions.”

On March 31, Mitchell was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to undergo tests after collapsing at her Bel Air home. People magazine has reported that she suffered a stroke.

Thyne says in her court papers that Mitchell was unresponsive when she visited the singer at the hospital on April 30. But when she went to the “Big Yellow Taxi” singer’s home on June 26, Mitchell was sitting at her kitchen table eating lunch.

The 71-year-old Mitchell said she was pleased with Morris’ role as her temporary conservator and that she would like her friend’s authority to be extended, according to Thyne.

“She also told me that she receives excellent care from caregivers around the clock,” Thyne stated in her court papers. “It was clear that she was happy to be home and that she has made remarkable progress. She has physical therapy each day and is expected to make a full recovery.”

—City News Service

Full Article & Source:
Joni Mitchell’s health better, but judge extends conservatorship

3 workers at Far Rockaway nursing home charged with abuse

Authorities say the abuse happened at the Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway.

Two nurses and a nurse's aide were reportedly caught on camera by the facility's surveillance system either abusing the patients or doing nothing to help.

In one instance, a nurse is seen dragging a 51-year-old debilitated man on the floor by his arm. The patient is bleeding and in obvious pain, and other nurses are seen standing around and watching.

"My office will not tolerate nurses who callously fail to treat or endanger injured patients under their care," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. "Caregivers must know that we will vigorously prosecute behavior that endangers our most vulnerable citizens. New Yorkers in nursing facilities deserve quality care and their loved ones deserve to know their caregivers act like the professionals they are."

In another video, the male patient is shown crawling on the floor, obviously bleeding from the neck or arm. Other nurses are seen standing by, doing nothing.

Management at Peninsula turned the video over to law enforcement, and all three defendants were either terminated or resigned.

The three health care workers surrendered to authorities on Wednesday morning.

The suspects are nurses Funmiloloa Taiwo, 34, and Esohe Agbonkpolor, 39, and 36-year-old aide Emmanuael Efot.

All three are charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person and willful violation of health laws.

They are all state registered health workers.

According to the state health department, there have been 112 complaints filed against the nursing home since 2011, which is double the statewide average. Inspections turned up 79 deficiencies, also double the statewide average. And in 2005, the home was fined $2,000 for an unspecified quality of care violation.

The victim was not identified and his family could not be reached for comment.

Here are more details of the alleged incident, attributable to the Attorney General's Office. All of these details are allegations: On October 23, 2014, Taiwo and Agbonkpolor were both working as nurses at Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Ufot was working as a certified nurse aide. That evening, the 51-year-old resident, who suffered from multiple debilitating conditions including altered mental status, fell in front of Agbonkpolor while in a hallway at Peninsula. After the resident was left lying on his back on the floor for 12 minutes, Ufot grabbed the injured resident by the arm and dragged him down the hallway into his room.

Around 25 minutes later, the resident, wearing only a backless gown that was pulled up over his unclad waste, emerged from his room, crawling along the floor on his back, bleeding profusely from a wound to the back of his head and another serious wound on his jaw. For the following 20 minutes, Taiwo and Agbonkpolor, working just a few feet away, largely ignored the resident and never appropriately treated the resident's wounds, including never attempting to stop the bleeding from his head and neck wounds.

Instead, Ufot, in another attempt to get the resident back into his room, allegedly grabbed the resident by his hospital gown that was by then twisted around his neck and dragged him along the floor and dropped him abruptly in front of his room.

Elliot Norman, the Administrator at Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Cardiff Bay Center LLC released a statement saying,

"Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has a zero tolerance toward any type of misconduct, abusive or negligent behavior by staff toward patients. When the state appointed Cardiff receivers of the facility in February 2013, which had been in bankruptcy and had been devastated in Superstorm Sandy, one of our first actions was to invest in a state-of-the-art video surveillance system covering every inch of the building to ensure patient safety and security. As part of our established protocol, we review these tapes on a daily basis, and it was through this review process that we discovered the alleged inappropriate activity by three former employees. We immediately provided the surveillance footage to the New York State Attorney General's office and terminated the employees. We will continue to fully cooperate with the Attorney General with his ongoing investigation. Here at Peninsula, we will also continue to maintain absolute vigilance including the extensive use of our video surveillance system to ensure patient safety and the high standard of care we demand our employees deliver to our residents."

Full Article & Source:
3 workers at Far Rockaway nursing home charged with abuse

Friday, July 10, 2015

Families Go to Battle in Probate Court, Only to Leave Without Anything

Fred Harper
In October 2007, Willie Jo Mills of Houston suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of her body. A widow with two daughters and a son, the 80-year-old woman was prescribed a variety of pain medications, but doctors couldn’t find the right cocktail.

Six months later, Mills’s son Larry filed an application with the Harris County Probate Court to become his mom’s legal guardian. Mills’s youngest daughter, Sherry Johnston, who wasn’t getting along with Larry, contested her brother’s guardianship request. With the case at a standstill, Judge Christine Riddle Butts, one of the newest of Harris County’s four elected probate judges, selected the third-party guardians David R. Dexel, a Houston-based attorney, and Ginger Lott, a certified guardian in Texas, as Mills’s legal caretakers.

Johnston says that’s when the family’s five-year horror began.

According to documents filed with the Harris County Probate Court, Johnston alleges her mother was miserable and overmedicated and shriveled to 89 pounds while under the care of the court-appointed guardians. “She looked like a concentration camp victim,” says Johnston, who adds that she was barred from visiting her mother at Silverado Kingwood Memory Care Community after she complained about the lack of attention paid to her mom.

Following her complaint to the court, Johnston was allowed to visit with her mother. In the next six months, she put 30 pounds on her mother, but Willie Jo eventually moved to hospice and died on September 27, 2014, at the age of 86. Johnston thinks the pitiful treatment by the third-party guardians is part of the reason her mother stopped talking the last four months of her life.

“[Probate Court] isn’t about protection or appointing someone to act in the best interest of a person. It’s about ownership of a human being and all their assets. It’s starting to look like they’re running a business rather than taking care of elderly people,” says Debby Valdez, president of the San Antonio-based Guardianship Reform Advocates for the Disabled and Elderly.

By law, a person in the clutches of a guardianship loses his basic rights such as the ability to drive, spend money, marry, choose a place to live and make medical decisions for himself. Instead, the bill of rights is transferred to the appointed guardian.

A professional caretaker through a county guardianship program, or a certified — or even uncertified — guardian such as a private lawyer can carry out a court-appointed guardianship, which dissolves a previous power of attorney that a relative may have obtained. (The Texas Judicial Branch Certification Commission requires the completion of a four-hour course to become a certified guardian. Until recently, it had been only three hours.)

Before he became the legal guardian for his mother, Olga, Gregory DeFrancesco, a retired Houston Police Department sergeant, had been fighting a grueling guardianship battle in Harris County probate court.

In July 2012, Judge Loyd Wright of Harris County Probate Court No. 1 appointed Dexel to take care of the now 88-year-old woman’s affairs. The court became involved because Gregory and his sister Donna couldn’t agree on specifics regarding their mother’s care (or anything else, for that matter).

According to a complaint filed by Donna with the State Bar of Texas’s Chief Disciplinary Council, after Dexel sold Olga’s house, he hawked her belongings in a poorly run sale. Sentimental possessions, like their grandmother’s rocking chair and a piece of jewelry that contained their father’s ashes, were sold before Gregory and Donna had a chance to run over and rescue the items.

The barely legible, hand-scrawled itemized receipt looks as if a six-year-old kid had run the sale. Purchased items include “crystol plate” for $7, “3 oval” for $5 and “sieve,” “foil,” “napkin hold” and “SS gravy body” for $1 apiece. One of the few items that didn’t sell was an X-ray of Olga’s shoulder, which Gregory found with a $3 price sticker slapped on it, according to Donna’s complaint with the State Bar of Texas.

When Gregory confronted Dexel, who didn’t respond to a Houston Press interview request, about the X-ray that also listed Olga’s date of birth and Social Security number, “He told me that they tried to sell it so that parents could teach their children how to play doctor.”

A month after Gregory usurped Dexel as his mother’s guardian, Donna’s State Bar of Texas complaint alleges that Dexel withdrew $16,340.18 from Olga’s Wells Fargo account (because he was still listed as a co-signer) and made out a cashier’s check payable to himself, according to a bank statement and check image examined by the Press. The withdrawal took Olga’s account down to a big fat $0.

“The whole system is rigged. It’s one big scam,” Gregory says about Harris County probate court, which critics allege is a corrupt, freewheeling operation that allows judges’ favorite appointees, who are also close friends and campaign donors, to bleed the estates of the helpless and vulnerable. Naysayers of court-appointed guardians believe that attorneys prey on family drama to charge astronomical fees and that judges aren’t doing enough to stop them.

Even though probate law is a complicated field that requires specialized attorneys, only 20 of the judges in Texas’s 254 counties have legal-studies degrees and professional law experience, according to Judge Mike Wood, who’s in charge of Harris County Probate Court No. 2. “The rest are farmers, car dealers and insurance salesmen, so probate law is written to be run by non-lawyers,” says Wood. Travis County Probate Court Judge Guy Herman, one of Texas’s presiding state statutory probate judges, adds, “Non-lawyer judges sometimes don’t seem to know or understand their duties and obligations” because of a lack of resources in rural areas.

Unlike probate courts out in the sticks, Harris County’s four probate judges and Herman think that statutory probate courts in Texas’s resource-rich metropolitan areas — which include Bexar, Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Galveston, Harris, Hidalgo, Tarrant and Travis counties — are well-oiled machines. Herman, who has been a point person for probate legislation since 1985, says Texas’s revamping of probate statutes in 1993 brought kudos from other states.

“The system is geared to help people,” says Wright. “Sometimes things aren’t fixable when there’s dysfunction and family animosity.”

Herman couldn’t agree more. “The driver of the expense is a family feud and the children who are arguing about who should be the guardian. There’s not a single judge that likes these fights. It’s wasting the family’s money,” says Herman, who adds, “I don’t think judges are sitting around trying to be corrupt.”

However, state lawmakers thought something was awry during the 2015 Texas legislative session because Governor Greg Abbott signed yet another try at legislation designed to help families in guardianship proceedings.

“We need some sort of oversight of these court appointees, because right now, I don’t know of any,” says state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat from Laredo who sponsored or co-sponsored several guardianship bills.

Harris County’s four probate judges and Travis County’s Herman aren’t thrilled with many of the new laws, which force more accountability on the judges and go into effect September 1.

Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht says there’s one bulletproof way to avoid potential probate court messes. During a hearing for the eventually inked House Bill 39, which will provide families with less-restrictive alternatives to guardianships, Zaffirini asked Hecht for probate court and guardianship avoidance techniques.

His response: Get along with your family members.

Good luck with that.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Families Go to Battle in Probate Court, Only to Leave Without Anything

The Vegas Voice: Our Rana Appointed to Nevada Supreme Court's Guardianship Commission

The telephone called ID said Nevada Supreme Court but our Vegas Voice political editor had no idea when she answered the telephone that the voice on the other end would be Nevada Chief Justice James. W. Hardesty.

Judge Hardesty invited her to serve and be a member of the newly created  "Commission to Study the Administration of Guardianship in Nevada's Court."  The Commission will review the process for creating guardianships, the court documentation and tracking and any resources available or needed to assist Nevada's courts on administering guardianships.

Commissioner members will assist in hearing testimony, writing proposed rules and developing a new model for Nevada guardianships.  AS always, we'll keep our readers updated!

Congratulations, Rana!

The Vegas Voice - July issue

State establishes call center, one number to report adult maltreatment

Part of pending legislative action for months, July 1 marked the official rollout day of the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC), which provides one, central number for the entire state that people can call to report suspected abuse of vulnerable adults: 1-844-880-1574.

Mille Lacs County Adult Protection Supervisor Charlotte “Char” Kohlgraf said about the new way of reporting, “It gives people a place to go 24 hours per day.”

In the past people needed to call the county social services  department during business hours. She said all 87 counties in Minnesota were taking the reports, and probably not all of them used the same procedures.

The center enables people to call anytime and creates continuity and consistency among reports. Kohlgraf said it will also expedite reporting because everything goes through one, central agency for collection and processing.

She gave “rough estimates” of the numbers of vulnerable adults in Mille Lacs County judging by approximately 175 reports made in 2014, and the county was the “lead investigative agency in about 75 of those cases. Minnesota established the Vulnerable Adult Act in 1981 as a means to protect people after a mute, bedbound, woman victim was raped. The law has continued to evolve since then.

In addition to the central number everyone can call, the MAARC includes a Web-based form for mandatory reporters such as doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, licensed professionals, law enforcement and other such professionals or professionals’ delegates that is available 24 hours daily.

Kohlgraf explained the technical definitions of “vulnerable adult,” several of which involve people cared for in licensed facilities by licensed professionals. Generally a vulnerable adult is a person 18 years of age or older who has a mental, physical or emotional infirmity that prevents them from providing for their own care and safety. The definitions cover anyone who is a resident of or receiving services from some type of licensed facility, as well as those with age-related disability, frailty or memory issues.

The website offers elder abuse statistics that say one of every 10 senior citizens will be the victim of some kind of abuse and that the financial exploitation of seniors results in the loss of $2.9 billion annually.

These are the three, main types of vulnerable-adult maltreatment the state defines in more detail at its website:

• Abuse of a physical, emotional or sexual nature including the use of restraints and involuntary seclusion or punishment, slapping, kicking and hitting.
• Neglect including failure to give necessary food, shelter, clothing, medical care or supervision.
• Financial exploitation including use of the person’s money that is not to their benefit, theft and the withholding of funds.

When a call comes into the MAARC, operators create a report and send it to the lead investigative agency: 1) law enforcement if there has been criminal activity or a suspicious death; 2) county social services if the person has immediate protection needs; 3) to the state department of health if the person is under the care of a person or facility licensed by that agency such as a hospital, nursing home or home-care provider; and 4) the state department of human services if the person is cared for in a setting licensed by DHS such as a chemical-dependency treatment center or an adult day or foster care.

After people submit a report, it is routed to the proper investigative authorities. Average individuals can make reports anonymously, but mandatory reporters usually cannot. Sometimes the person who made the report will be contacted by the responsible agency, which issues a finding once the investigation is complete.

Full Article & Source:
State establishes call center, one number to report adult maltreatment

Liberty Terrace Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center forced to shut down after resident complaints

LIBERTY, Mo. - Staff and residents at a Liberty healthcare center are forced to leave by next month after complaints from patients claim negligence and abuse.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services sent the director a letter last month informing her they were terminating their agreement with the center.

The center has 134 beds, and patients are now being transferred to other places by the August 7 deadline.

Documents reveal that surveyors from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services visited the site multiple times and found numerous violations.

In the documents from May, one resident complained to surveyors saying a "staff member yelled and slammed the snack cart into one resident.”

The center has 134 beds, and patients are now being transferred to other places by the August 7 deadline.

Documents reveal that surveyors from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services visited the site multiple times and found numerous violations.

In the documents from May, one resident complained to surveyors saying a "staff member yelled and slammed the snack cart into one resident.”

Full Article & Source:
Liberty Terrace Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center forced to shut down after resident complaints

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Opinion: Love & Mercy, the Croatian Way


NEW YORK, Jul 6 2015 (IPS) - Last week, I went to see the new flick “Love & Mercy,” about the life of Brian Wilson, a singer, songwriter, and the genius behind The Beach Boys. I hadn’t heard much about the film. In fact, I was expecting a summer movie about surfing and fun; The Beach Boys playing Kokomo, Good Vibrations, and Surfin’ U.S.A. on sunny California  beaches.

I was wrong. Instead, lives of hundreds of people I’ve met unfolded on the screen.

Love & Mercy depicts Wilson in two narratives: in the first, he is portrayed at the height of his fame as the leader of The Beach Boys in the 1960s. The second features a middle-aged Wilson misdiagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by Eugene Landy, Wilson’s therapist and legal guardian.

In the movie, Landy keeps Wilson heavily medicated as he controls every aspect of his life, including his finances, residence, family relationships and social interactions, and other basic life decisions. In one scene, Wilson talks about not speaking to his mother and daughters for years because Landy “doesn’t think it is a good idea.”

In another, Landy tells Wilson when and how much he should eat and whom he should date. Landy himself explains his influence:  “I’m the control. He is a little boy in a man’s body… It is my job, my duty to approve everyone Brian is spending time with.”

Wilson did not argue against Landy taking charge for fear that Landy would have him committed to an institution. As Wilson explains in the movie: “I can’t do that [disobey Landy]. He is my legal guardian. He can do things to me… He can send me away… There’s no way out.”

As the movie unfolded, it wasn’t solely Wilson’s story that I saw on the screen. I was reminded of Tatjana and Ivan, whom I met in Croatia. They are among the 18,000 people with disabilities placed under guardianship there and denied their right to make decisions about their lives.

More than 90 percent live under full guardianship, under which the guardians – often nominated by the government – make all life decisions for them.

Tatjana was diagnosed with schizophrenia in her early 30s, deprived of her legal capacity and placed under guardianship. She is now 47 but can’t visit her daughter or her mother without the permission of her guardian – in her case, a social worker.

It is the same if she wants to move to another house, get married, sign an employment contract, make health care decisions, or even officially publish her poems. Tatjana lived for nine years in an institution against her will because her legal guardian placed her there.

Ivan is 30 and was diagnosed with mild mental health problems. He was just 16 when he was placed indefinitely in Lopaca, a psychiatric hospital where 168 people, including 20 children, are confined. He still lives there.

Ivan and Tatjana told me that they did not consent to their confinement to an institution. They were, in fact, never asked about their preferences, wishes and wants. Both of them were stripped of their right to make decisions about their lives and appointed legal guardians.

Neither Tatjana nor Ivan was present during the court proceedings determining their legal capacity so they could  provide their input for this major decision about their life.  While guardians are supposed to only oversee decisions with legal consequences, such as signing contracts, in Croatia – just like what was depicted in Love & Mercy –guardians can monitor and control every move a person makes.

I saw firsthand that people with disabilities trapped in institutions in Croatia can experience a range of abuses including verbal abuse, forced treatment, involuntary confinement in hospitals, and limited freedom of movement.

At a pivotal point in the movie, Landy forbids Wilson and Melinda Ledbetter, his current wife, from seeing each other. That triggers Ledbetter, the true heroine of the movie, to intensify her efforts to free Wilson from Landy’s control. She learns that Wilson’s will would have awarded the vast majority of his wealth to Landy. The good news: Wilson’s family files a lawsuit successfully challenging the guardianship.

Sadly, there are no heroines to free Tatjana or Ivan of their guardians. There is a chance of a happy ending though. Croatia, unlike the U.S., has ratified the U.N. Disability Rights Treaty, which requires governments to move away from guardianship and instead provide a system of assistance and support for decision-making that respects the autonomy, will, and preferences of the person with the disability. Croatian laws, however, don’t reflect this.

Key policymakers in the Croatian government should see “Love & Mercy.” Maybe then they will abolish Croatia’s guardianship regime and provide a wide range of support measures. Who knew that The Beach Boys’ influence could go so far beyond their music?

Full Article & Source:
Opinion: Love & Mercy, the Croatian Way

Bilked by a grandson, man becomes face of new law

Scott Anderson
Dementia landed Perry Bitzel in the Gilman Healthcare Center more than a year ago. It also placed the 82-year-old under the legal guardianship of a family member who allegedly wiped out his bank accounts and sold two of his houses.

Perry was a victim of fraud, and charges have yet to be filed against one of his grandsons. He was one of many senior citizens throughout the United States who lose a combined $3 billion every year, according to past studies.

However, Monday marked a breakthrough. State Rep. Tom Bennett and Sen. Jason Barickman, whose district includes Livingston County, announced a bill, known as “Perry’s Law,” that would enable Perry and his family to move directly to civil court. It is awaiting Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature.

Previously, families or guardians would have needed formal charges to be filed before they could pursue a civil case.

“It’s a sad reality that the most vulnerable in our community are often targeted for financial abuse and fraud,” Bennett said. “To add insult to injury, the high burden of proof in criminal cases often discourages prosecution and leaves victims and their loved ones without a good way to seek justice and to recover financially.”

That’s how “Perry’s Law” started. Perry’s other grandson and current guardian, Shawn Bitzel, learned of the scheme after it was too late. The accused grandson sold Perry’s home behind his back for a measly $5,000.

“I was devastated when all of this happened,” Shawn said. “With this new law, we were able to find a positive in the situation. It helped me get back on my feet, and hopefully it will prevent other situations like this from happening.”

Shawn eventually repurchased the house and discovered further indications of fraud. He obtained temporary guardianship of Perry in December 2014 and permanent guardianship this March. Yet, his family has not recovered the other finances that were lost.

Shawn met with a relative, Susan Wynn-Bence, Perry’s niece who works under Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti. She arranged a meeting with Bennett and Barickman that eventually led to the creation of “Perry’s Law.”

Barickman explained that the law removes a loophole that did not protect people similar to Perry. He said he encourages those who do not agree with certain laws to contact state representatives and senators.

“It’s our job to figure out how to make sure those problems don’t exist in the future anymore,” Barickman said.

Bennett said he is confident Rauner will sign the bill, and allow elderly fraud victims to find justice.

"This change will help those victimized get the justice they deserve and their finances restored," Bennett said. "By making those responsible financially liable for more than the actual damages they cause, it also sends a strong message to those who would target the most vulnerable members of our community."

If Rauner signs the law, Shawn said he hopes legislators in Springfield will print several copies of it and display it at every nursing home throughout the state so that people are aware.

“A lot of elderly people in our society sometimes become the forgotten,” Shawn said. “They are the ones who put up with more than we have today. They went through the Great Depression, the wars, the economy. I think it’s great that we are protecting them now.”

Shawn said his family intends to pursue a civil suit against the ne'er-do-well relative, who has been held at the Iroquois County Jail since late May on felony charges unrelated to Perry’s case.

Full Article & Source: 
Bilked by a grandson, man becomes face of new law

Knowing How Doctors Die Can Change End-Of-Life Discussions

Nora Zamichow says if she and her husband, Mark Saylor, had known how doctors die, they might have made different treatment decisions for him toward the end of his life.

Dr. Kendra Fleagle Gorlitsky recalls the anguish she felt performing CPR on elderly, terminally ill patients.

It looks nothing like what we see on TV. In real life, ribs often break and few survive the ordeal.

"I felt like I was beating up people at the end of their life," she says. "I would be doing the CPR with tears coming down sometimes, and saying, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, goodbye.' Because I knew that it very likely not going to be successful. It just seemed a terrible way to end someone's life."

Gorlitsky now teaches medicine at the University of Southern California and says these early clinical experiences have stayed with her.

Gorlitsky wants something different for herself and for her loved ones. And most other doctors do too: A Stanford University study shows almost 90 percent of doctors would forgo resuscitation and aggressive treatment if facing a terminal illness.

It was about 10 years ago, after a colleague had died swiftly and peacefully, that Dr. Ken Murray first noticed doctors die differently than the rest of us.

"He had died at home, and it occurred to me that I couldn't remember any of our colleagues who had actually died in the hospital," Murray says. "That struck me as quite odd, because I know that most people do die in hospitals."

Murray then began talking about it with other doctors.

"And I said, 'Have you noticed this phenomenon?' They thought about it, and they said, 'You know?

You're right.' "

In 2011, Murray, a retired family practice physician, shared his observations in an online article that quickly went viral. The essay, "How Doctors Die," told the world that doctors are more likely to die at home with less aggressive care than most people get at the end of their lives. That's Murray's plan, too.

"I fit with the vast majority of physicians that want to have a gentle death and don't want extraordinary measures taken when they have no meaning," Murray says.

A majority of seniors report feeling the same way. Yet, they often die while hooked up to life support. And only about 1 in 10 doctors report having conversations with their patients about death.

A family portrait of Nora Zamichow, husband Mark Saylor and their daughter, Zia Saylor.
A family portrait of Nora Zamichow, husband Mark Saylor and their daughter, Zia Saylor. - Maya Sugarman/KPCC 
One reason for the disconnect, says Dr. Babak Goldman, is that too few doctors are trained to talk about death with patients. "We're trained to prolong life," he says.

Goldman is a palliative care specialist at Providence Saint Joseph's Medical Center in Burbank, Calif., and he says that having the tough talk may feel like a doctor is letting a family down. "I think it's sometimes easier to give hope than to give reality," Goldman says.

Goldman, now 35, read Murray's essay as part of his residency. He says that he, too, would prefer to die without heroic measures, and he believes that knowing how doctors die is important information for patients.

"If they know that this is what we'd want for ourselves and for our own families, that goes a long way," he says.

In addition, Medicare does not pay doctors for end-of-life planning meetings with patients.

Nora Zamichow wishes she had read Murray's essay sooner. The Los Angeles-based freelance writer says she and her husband, Mark Saylor, likely would have made different treatment decisions about his brain tumor if they had.

Zamichow says that an arduous regimen of chemo and radiation left her 58-year-old husband unable to walk, and ultimately bedridden in his final weeks. "And at no point did any doctor say to us, 'You know, what about not treating?' "

Zamichow realized after reading Murray's essay that doing less might have offered her husband more peace in his final days.

"What Ken's article spelled out for me was, 'Wait a minute, you know, we did not get the full range of options,' " she says.

But knowing how much medical intervention at the end of life is most appropriate for a particular person requires wide-ranging conversations about death.

Murray says he hopes his essay will spur more physicians to initiate these difficult discussions with patients and families facing end-of-life choices.

This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, KPCC and Kaiser Health News.

Full Article & Source:
Knowing How Doctors Die Can Change End-Of-Life Discussions

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Judge: Nursing homes may not decide for unrepresented, mentally incompetent residents

A California law allowing nursing homes to make medical decisions on behalf of certain mentally incompetent residents is unconstitutional, a state court ruled this week.

The law, which has been in effect more than 20 years, gave nursing homes authority to decide residents’ medical treatment if a doctor determined they were unable to do so and they had no one to represent them.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo wrote in the June 24 decision that the law violates patients’ due process rights because it doesn’t require nursing homes to notify patients they have been deemed incapacitated or to give them the chance to object.

Grillo acknowledged the decision is likely to “create problems” in how nursing homes operate but wrote that patients’ rights are more compelling.

“The stakes are simply too high to hold otherwise,” the judge wrote. Any error could deprive patients of their rights to make medical decisions that “may result in significant consequences, including death.”

The medical decisions on incapacitated residents without representatives are made by a team that includes a physician and a nurse.

The fact that nursing homes are making end-of-life decisions without patient input is a big concern, according to the ruling. The decision cited one nursing home resident who was found to be mentally incapacitated and had no representative. The facility staff made a decision to take him off life-sustaining treatment, and he passed away in 2013.

The ruling came after the advocacy group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform filed a lawsuit in 2013 against the state Department of Public Health. The suit alleged that nursing homes used the law to administer anti-psychotic drugs, place residents in physical restraints and deny patients life-sustaining treatment.

Tony Chicotel, a staff attorney for the group, said the ruling will dramatically impact the lives of the most vulnerable nursing home residents.

“What (nursing homes) used to do was routinely make decisions big and small for their residents without really any regard to due process,” Chicotel said. “Now the residents are finally going to have their rights acknowledged and honored.”

Even patients who are compromised should still have a say in their medical care, he added.

“They have been ignored,” he said. “Unrepresented residents and the way they are treated in nursing homes has never been a priority of the Department of Public Health.”

The department is reviewing the decision, a spokesman said, though officials declined to comment or say whether they planned to appeal.

The law was enacted in 1992 because nursing facilities needed a way to give medical treatment to their incapacitated residents without having to wait up to six months for state approval, according to the ruling.

But the decision could make it challenging for nursing homes to provide routine medical or hospice care to residents who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions and have no designated representatives, said Mark Reagan, an attorney representing the trade group California Association of Health Facilities, which is not part of the lawsuit.

“If the person objects, then what?” Reagan said. “That can put patients and facilities in a difficult place.”

Seeking court approval to provide anti-psychotic medication to residents who truly need it would be costly and time-consuming for nursing facilities, he added. “How do you keep that person safe, and how do you keep the other residents of the skilled nursing facility safe?”

Reagan fears the ruling could have one unanticipated outcome: Patients without decision makers could have a hard time finding a nursing facility willing to take them.

“If this decision makes it more difficult to supply necessary care at the bedside, this population is going to be less served,” he said.

The judge, however, wrote that informing patients and allowing them to object is not likely to result in any significant burdens on nursing homes.

Golden Gate University Law School Professor Mort Cohen, who filed the case, said the next step is for the judge to issue an order directing the state Department of Public Health, which oversees nursing homes statewide.

The state could ask the court for a stay or could appeal the decision, but Cohen said he expects the decision to stick.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Full Article & Source:
Judge: Nursing homes may not decide for unrepresented, mentally incompetent residents

Find Nursing Home Problems in Your State

This app uses data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Fines are listed for the past three years if a home has made partial or full payment (fines under appeal are not included).

Information on deficiencies come from a home’s last three inspection cycles, or roughly three years in total.

CLICK to access ProPublica:  Nursing Home Inspect

Governor Abbott Signs Nursing Home 'Three Strikes' Bill

AUSTIN, Texas -- AARP Texas Director Bob Jackson issued the following statement regarding Senate Bill 304, a measure strengthening nursing home regulations that was sponsored by state Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and which Governor Greg Abbott signed into law on Friday:

“Governor Abbott and the Texas Legislature have taken an important step toward providing much-needed improvements in the way the state oversees nursing homes. Senate Bill 304 expresses a clear intent that the state will not tolerate abuse or neglect of nursing home residents in homes licensed by the state.

“While the Legislature could have gone much further this year toward keeping nursing home residents safe by also passing additional and significant reforms offered to them by the Sunset Advisory Commission, all Texans can be very pleased that Senate Bill 304 is in place to limit the harm caused by bad actors in the nursing home business.

“I congratulate Senator Charles Schwertner for having the foresight to champion this valuable legislation, and I congratulate Governor Abbott and the entire Texas Legislature for understanding its importance.”

Known as the Three Strikes Rule bill, Senate Bill 304 requires the Department of Aging and Disability Services to revoke the operating license of nursing homes cited for the most severe violations three times within 24 months. The Texas Senate approved SB 304 on a 30-0 vote and it was approved 138-1 in the Texas House of Representatives. The new law takes effect Sept. 1, 2016

Full Article & Source:
Governor Abbott Signs Nursing Home 'Three Strikes' Bill

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Police raid Las Vegas lawyer’s office in courthouse probe


An investigation of Las Vegas lawyers who forged documents in misdemeanor cases involving prostitutes has expanded to include another defense attorney.

Las Vegas intelligence detectives Tuesday raided the home and law office of attorney Vicki Greco, seeking evidence that Greco filed phony certificates of completion for Las Vegas Justice Court-ordered counseling and community service on behalf of 39 clients between 2008 and 2010.

The investigation is a spin-off of the criminal case against suspended defense lawyer Brian Bloomfield, who pleaded guilty to doing the same for his clients, mostly prostitutes, over the same period.

Bloomfield pleaded guilty to felony and gross misdemeanor charges in the counseling scheme in December 2013. He admitted filing or helping file forged records in 91 cases that falsely claimed a client had completed counseling or community service. He also admitted having client files destroyed to cover his actions.

Detectives on Tuesday sought correspondence between Greco and Bloomfield related to the 39 clients, according to copies of the search warrants obtained by the Review-Journal.

Bloomfield, who has yet to be sentenced, is waiting to hear from a State Bar of Nevada disciplinary panel if he should permanently lose his law license.

Aaron Stanton, the detective who investigated Bloomfield, obtained the search warrants in the case against Greco. His affidavit providing probable cause for the search is sealed.

Police also searched for correspondence and records of financial trans­actions between Greco and former juvenile probation officer Robert Chiodini, who was charged along with Bloomfield in 2011. Chiodini, who also pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors, is awaiting sentencing.

Chiodini was accused of helping Bloomfield obtain phony certificates of completion showing community service for a youth boxing organization that Chiodini owned.

Detectives searched Greco’s client files Tuesday for certificates of completion from Chiodini’s Genesis Center.

According to the search warrants, detectives also sought tax returns for Greco and her law firm for 2007 through 2010. Police left Greco’s law office with her computer server and found client files at a rented storage unit.

Greco, who has had a Nevada law license since September 2003, declined comment. Her firm’s website says it is regarded as one of the best in Las Vegas, and that a “consistent track record of uncompromising ethics instills confidence and trust.”

State Bar Counsel David Clark said Greco hasn’t been before his organization for any disciplinary proceedings, but he’s interested in the courthouse allegations. “We’ll certainly inquire of the authorities whatever information they can share,” he said.

In December 2011, Bloomfield, Chiodini and former counseling service owner Steven Brox were charged in a county indictment with carrying out the scheme as far back as 2008.

Bloomfield’s wife, Amber McDearmon, and former bail bondsman Thomas Jaskol were subsequently indicted, with added charges that they conspired with Bloomfield to destroy evidence.

All but Brox eventually pleaded guilty. His trial is set for Sept. 8.

Bloomfield last month made an emotional plea to keep his license, telling the State Bar’s disciplinary panel he considered suicide after his guilty plea. He is serving a one-year temporary suspension and now earns $9 an hour in a telemarketing call center to support his wife and three young children, he said.

Contact Jeff German at or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter: @JGermanRJ

Full Article & Source:
Police raid Las Vegas lawyer’s office in courthouse probe

Ex-Galveston Judge Posts Fake Escort Ads of Ex-Girlfriends

Former Galveston County Court-at-Law Judge Christopher Dupuy has gone from posting Joel Osteen aphorisms on his Facebook page to posting fake prostitution ads featuring two ex-girlfriends, authorities say.

Dupuy was arrested July 2 in Galveston and charged with online harassment. He remains in Galveston County Jail in lieu of $600,000 bond.

One of the women told a Harris County Sheriff's Deputy in December that she'd received calls and texts from people saying they saw her ad on, according to investigator Scott Hardcastle's affidavit. She was able to find the ad, which claimed she charged $70 for 30 minutes.

The woman later told Hardcastle that she's known Dupuy for 20 years and that
they had dated approximately 6 years ago, before she married someone else. She recently employed Christopher Dupuy as her attorney in divorce proceedings which were finalized in November of 2014. During his representation of her, Christopher Dupuy stated to her that he wanted to be in a relationship with her. Complainant declined the Suspect. She stated that this angered Dupuy and that he began monitoring her personal Facebook page and making comments to her regarding other males that she communicated with on Facebook. He would also copy photos from her Facebook account and send them to her with derogatory remarks about the pictures.
Hardcastle found the fake ad, which alleged that the woman was "VERY FETISH FRIENDLY" and would "guarantee you full satisfaction." A caption for the ad read "Looking for a sexy nurse?"

After the Harris County District Attorney's Office subpoenaed, Hardcastle was able to trace the ad to Dupuy, who created it under the name "Don Tequila," which is the Facebook persona of an outspoken Dupuy critic.

Another ad featured a woman who said she'd broken up with Dupuy around August 2014; the ad included photos of her breasts, which she had texted to Dupuy. The woman also told Hardcastle that Dupuy had been harassing her since the break-up.

Dupuy has been in trouble before. According to a Houston Chronicle story, "his arrest comes two years after Dupuy, then a sitting judge, was indicted on 11 criminal charges relating to his conduct in office, including making false statements. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct suspended him soon after his indictment. He was arrested twice before Thursday, once after his indictment and again three months later for contempt of court."

And that's not all:  "Dupuy was elected in 2010 in a race against the judge handling his divorce case. Complaints about his judicial conduct soon began piling up, including telephone threats against an attorney and for refusing to recuse himself from a case in which he was linked socially to one of the female attorneys. Meanwhile, he was defending two malpractice lawsuits filed before he became a judge and was going through his second bankruptcy, which the State Commission on Judicial Conduct said was filed to delay the cases and get rid of the judgments against him."

The story states that Dupuy pleaded guilty in September 2013 to two misdemeanor charges of abuse of office and perjury. He received two years' deferred adjudication.

Boy, it's stuff like this that can really keep a guy off those "Top Texas Lawyers" lists. We're curious to see where this one goes, and we'll keep you posted.

Update: We just heard back from the "real" Don Tequila, who tells us via Facebook
I am flattered - and honored - to have played at least a small role in the former judge's current felony charges. Given the great lengths he appears to have gone to cover his tracks (using a VPN with international IP addresses), I am perplexed that he chose the name of a frequent online critic as his alias for the fraudulent backpage account. Of all the names in the world, I am not sure he could have picked a worse name, other than his own perhaps, to signal to authorities that he actually posted the revenge porn escort ads. Maybe it was an inept attempt to frame a vocal critic? Or maybe deep down he wanted to get caught
Full Article & Source:
Ex-Galveston Judge Posts Fake Escort Ads of Ex-Girlfriends

See Also:
Texas Judge Christopher Dupuy Indicted on 8 Criminal Charges

20 Facts About Senior Isolation That Will Stun You

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to serious consequences for senior health. Understanding the causes and risk factors for senior isolation can help us prevent it.

Nobody relishes the prospect of aging without a spouse or family member at their side, without friends to help them laugh at the ridiculous parts and support them through the difficult times. Yet that is just what many North American seniors face. As the baby boomer generation crosses the over-65 threshold, it grows; but many of our aging loved ones are still feeling alone in the crowd.

Statistics on Senior Isolation

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 11 million, or 28% of people aged 65 and older, lived alone in 2010. As people get older, their likelihood of living alone only increases. Additionally, more and more older adults do not have children, reports the AARP, and that means fewer family members to provide company and care as those adults become seniors.

While living alone does not inevitably lead to social isolation, it is certainly a predisposing factor. Yet another important consideration is how often seniors engage in social activities.

Statistics Canada reports that 80% of Canadian seniors participate in one or more social activities on a frequent basis (at least monthly) – but that leaves fully one-fifth of seniors not participating in weekly or even monthly activities.

Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for a variety of reasons, including retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility. Regardless of the causes of senior isolation, the consequences can be alarming and even harmful. Even perceived social isolation – the feeling that you are lonely – is a struggle for many older people. Fortunately, the past couple of decades have seen increasing research into the risks, causes, and prevention of loneliness in seniors.

Here are 20 facts about senior isolation to help you stay informed:

1. Senior isolation increases the risk of mortality.

According to a 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, both social isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in adults aged 52 and older.

One possible explanation: “People who live alone or lack social contacts may be at increased risk of death if acute symptoms develop, because there is less of a network of confidantes to prompt medical attention.” Efforts to reduce isolation are the key to addressing the issue of mortality, said the study’s authors.

2. Feelings of loneliness can negatively affect both physical and mental health.

Regardless of the facts of a person’s isolation, seniors who feel lonely and isolated are more likely to report also having poor physical and/or mental health, as reported in a 2009 study using data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project.

Connecting seniors with social resources, such as senior centers and meal delivery programs, is one way to combat subjective feelings of isolation.

3. Perceived loneliness contributes to cognitive decline and risk of dementia.

Dr. John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of Chicago, has been studying social isolation for 30 years. One frightening finding is that feelings of loneliness are linked to poor cognitive performance and quicker cognitive decline.

We evolved to be a social species, says Dr. Cacioppo – it’s hard-wired into our brains, and when we don’t meet that need, it can have physical and neurological effects.

4. Social isolation makes seniors more vulnerable to elder abuse.

Many studies show a connection between social isolation and higher rates of elder abuse, reports the National Center on Elder Abuse. Whether this is because isolated adults are more likely to fall victim to abuse, or a result of abusers attempting to isolate the elders from others to minimize risk of discovery, researchers aren’t certain.

A critical strategy for reducing elder abuse is speaking up: abuse, neglect and exploitation often go unreported. As for prevention, maintaining connections with senior loved ones helps us ensure their safety.

5. LGBT seniors are much more likely to be socially isolated.

LGBT seniors are twice as likely to live alone, according to SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders); they are more likely to be single and they are less likely to have children – and they are more likely to be estranged from their biological families.

Stigma and discrimination are major roadblocks to support for LGBT seniors, but there are more and more community groups and online resources devoted to helping these elders avoid isolation.

6. Social isolation in seniors is linked to long-term illness.

In the PNAS study mentioned above, illnesses and conditions such as chronic lung disease, arthritis, impaired mobility, and depression were associated with social isolation. Ensuring appropriate care for our loved ones’ illnesses can help prevent this isolation.

For homebound seniors, phone calls and visits can be a critical part of connecting with loved ones. Others may find that moving to an assisted living community addresses both issues – the need for ongoing care and the desire for companionship.

7. Loneliness in seniors is a major risk factor for depression.

Numerous studies over the past decade have shown that feeling loneliness is associated with more depressive symptoms in both middle-aged and older adults.

One important first step is recognizing those feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression and seeking treatment – whether it’s on your own behalf or for the sake of a loved one.

8. Loneliness causes high blood pressure.

A 2010 study in Psychology and Aging indicated a direct relationship between loneliness in older adults and increases in systolic blood pressure over a 4-year period. These increases were independent of race, ethnicity, gender, and other possible contributing factors.

Early interventions for loneliness, say the study’s authors, may be key to preventing both the isolation and associated health risks.

9. Socially isolated seniors are more pessimistic about the future.

According to the National Council on Aging, socially isolated seniors are more likely to predict their quality of life will get worse over the next 5-10 years, are more concerned about needing help from community programs as they get older, and are more likely to express concerns about aging in place.

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) says community-based programs and services are critical in helping ward off potential problems and improving quality of life for older people.

10. Physical and geographic isolation often leads to social isolation.

“One in six seniors living alone in the United States faces physical, cultural, and/or geographical barriers that isolate them from their peers and communities,” reports the National Council on Aging. “This isolation can prevent them from receiving benefits and services that can improve their economic security and their ability to live healthy, independent lives.”

Referring isolated older adults to senior centers, activity programs, and transportation services can go a long way toward creating valuable connections and reducing isolation.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
20 Facts About Senior Isolation That Will Stun You

Monday, July 6, 2015

Let the Death Panels Begin

This is the death watch for Suzanne Ohrling, 83, incarcerated against her will in an Oregon nursing home, "for the crime of old age", as she said to me last September. Within the next 24 hours she is expected to depart this life, after having been mostly unconscious due to aspiration pneumonia for most of the past week, according to her son Randy Lytle of Las Vegas, NV. They gave her antibiotics earlier in the week but she did not improve and then she was unconscious, said Lytle who is unable to get to Oregon to see his mom one last time.

Not that it would necessarily do much good for Randy to make the trip. His brother Brett Lytle of Milwaukie, Oregon was with their mother, Randy said, emphasis on was. Distraught because the nursing home insists his mother must die, Brett called 911 that his mom could go to a hospital for acute skilled care and IVs since she can take nothing by mouth, Randy told me in a recent call. He said, "911 came but left because Mom had signed an end of life agreement," and continued, "then the nursing home called the police and they escorted Brett from the premises."

"Will your mother die alone?" I asked gently.

"I suppose," Randy said in an exhausted, fatalistic voice. "They are treating it like hospice', he explained, "her house is on the market or sold for $150,000, the money has run out and they want to get rid of her because she costs too much". "She has to die and we don't have anything to say about it", was his opinion.

Unaware that his mom had ever signed an advanced directive to end her life, Lytle said he believes the state appointed guardians coerced her into signing sign one after they had declared her "demented". "What good is that?" he demanded.

Senior Citizens Council of Clackamas County, Inc., the entity that eventually succeeded in taking Suzanne Ohrling's freedom, filed court papers November 26, 2014 which detail the plan. In the copy I have before me, Mrs. Ohrling is primarily referred to by the dehumanizing term respondent. "Respondent needs a guardian appointed for an indefinite period of time to ensure her physical safety and continued placement in a secure facility," Section 6., page 09. [1] (emphasis mine)

It now appears this indefinite period of time will end in matter of hours. Humanizing her once again, Suzanne Ohrling, mother and grandmother, it seems, is kept in a facility so secure that a 911 ambulance called by her son must be turned away. In addressing physical safety, as her son Randy says, "they will make sure she is dead, but we can have the body."

Full Article and Source:
Let the Death Panels Begin

See Also:
FFOA Exclusive:  Safety or State Sanctioned Land Grab?

Bobbi Kristina Brown update: Conservator files suit against Nick Gordon, claims abuse

A conservator for Bobbi Kristina Brown has filed suit against Nick Gordon claiming the man who has been described as both Brown's husband and boyfriend abused her and stole thousands from her while she was in a coma.

According to a story from The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the suit seeks $10 million from Gordon, and was filed by Brown's conservator Bedelia C. Hargrove  in Superior Court of Fulton County in Georgia.

According to the lawsuit, there was a loud argument between Gordon and Brown on the morning of Jan. 31 — the day she was found unconscious in the bathtub in her Roswell, Ga., home.

The suit claims that "by direct and proximate result" of (Gordon's) conduct, Brown has suffered life threatening bodily harm and damages."

The suit went on to clarify Gordon's relationship with Brown:

"Defendant has held himself out as having several different relationships with Brown at various times. Prior to 2012, Defendant held himself out to be Brown's surrogate 'brother.' Then, after 2012, when Brown inherited a substantial sum, Defendant assumed the position of Brown's boyfriend. On or around Jan. 9, 2014 Defendant perpetuated the fraud that he had married Brown, though in fact he never did so."

No criminal charges have ever been brought in the case, according to a story from NBC News.

On Wednesday, Brown's aunt and co-guardian Pat Houston announced that the only daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown was being moved into hospice care.

"Despite the great medical care at numerous facilities, Bobbi Kristina Brown's condition has continued to deteriorate," Houston, said. "As of today, she has been moved into hospice care. We thank everyone for their support and prayers. She is in God's hands now."

Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive in the bathtub of her Roswell home on Jan. 31. She was kept in a medically-induced coma at Emory University Hospital for weeks before being moved to DeKalb Medical Center.

In April, Bobby Brown told concert goers that his daughter is awake, and "watching" him. Bobbi Kristina's grandmother, Cissy Houston denied the report, saying her granddaughter had irreversible brain damage.

Full Article & Source:
Bobbi Kristina Brown update: Conservator files suit against Nick Gordon, claims abuse

Court-appointed attorneys violated Disabilities Act, federal complaint says

A disability-rights group has filed a federal complaint alleging that the Los Angeles County Superior Court has systemically violated the civil rights of intellectually disabled residents who are under limited conservatorships by failing to provide effective legal assistance through its court-appointed attorneys.

The class-action complaint, filed with the U.S. Department of Justice in Los Angeles on Friday, claims that court-appointed attorneys routinely violate the Americans with Disabilities Act during limited-conservatorship proceedings.

Parents and other guardians can seek the power to make decisions related to their disabled child’s residence, education, contracts, medical and other legal matters after they turn 18. The court-appointed attorneys represent the conservatees during the process. The court determines who controls certain legal affairs of adults if they are deemed in court to be at least partially incapable of looking after themselves.

About 12,000 people have open limited-conservatorship cases in L.A. County, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges that the court system has failed to provide adequate training to attorneys in how to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, has failed to train the attorneys on how to effectively work with a client who has developmental disabilities, and lacks qualification and performance standards.

The court also places a conflict of interest on these attorneys, the complaint says. The court requires attorneys to advocate for the client while also assisting the court in resolving the matter, violating the client’s right to due process, the complaint says.

In a statement, the court said that it had not been served with the complaint and that it had not been notified by the Department of Justice of an investigation.

“In litigation, potential conservatees are represented by counsel chosen from a panel selected and trained by a Bar Association. The determination of appropriate restrictions on conservatees is made in individual proceedings before a bench officer applying the applicable law,” the statement said.

Thomas F. Coleman, an attorney and executive director of the Disability and Guardianship Project, which filed the complaint, called on federal authorities to investigate and force court officials to “clean up their act.” The lack of effective representation leads to people with disabilities inappropriately losing their rights, Coleman said at a news conference.

“We’re not interested in making people look bad — we’re interested in solutions,” he said. “But to get solutions, we need to tell the truth.”

The group filed a complaint last year with the U.S. Department of Justice contending that the court has wrongly stripped people under limited conservatorships of the right to vote if they could not fill out a voter registration affidavit. Last month, federal authorities announced that they were investigating the allegations.

Nora J. Baladerian, director of the Disability and Abuse Project, said the court system for decades has mistreated and failed some of society’s most vulnerable citizens.

“The court routinely treats individuals with disabilities who come before them as ‘less than.’ Less than human, I’m sorry to say,” she said.

Yolande Pam Erickson, the conservatorship attorney at Bet Tzedek Legal Services, defended the court and its attorneys, saying they take on a tremendously difficult job with care and compassion for the families they serve.

“The court almost bends over backward to do the right thing,” she said. “Are there some problems? Sure. But the attorneys, I believe, are advocating for the best interests of their clients.”

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, said officials will look into the allegations.

“The complaints will be reviewed to determine what, if any, action should follow,” he said.

Full Article & Source:
Court-appointed attorneys violated Disabilities Act, federal complaint says

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Deirdre Gilbert: Medical Malpractice & The Price We Pay for It

Hosted by Marti Oakley & Debbie Dahmer

Our guest will be Deidre Gilbert of the National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association (NMMAA) who will talk about how she became involved in advocating for people who were harmed by medical negligence. This issue is particularly important to those of us fighting the abuse and neglect of our elderly whose doctors seem unaware or unaffected by the deteriorating state of their patients, often times resulting in death.

Topics this evening include:

What is National Medical Malpractice Advocacy?

What is Medical Malpractice Month? What is the organization trying to accomplish?

Why are doctors able to still practice with criminal history and multiple medical malpractice suits?

(We'd like to know that too, Deidre!)

Website is

4:00 pm PST … 5:00 pm MST … 6:00 pm CST … 7:00 pm EST

Attorney general accuses Golden Living homes of failing to provide basic services to elderly

Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed an injunction against a chain of 36 nursing homes Wednesday, accusing it of misleading consumers by failing to provide basic services to elderly and vulnerable residents.

The Attorney General's Office claims Golden Gate Senior Care Center LLC, which manages and operates 36 Golden Living facilities throughout Pennsylvania — including ones in Monroeville and Mt. Lebanon — has engaged in deceptive and unlawful business practices while making a substantial profit. 

“These facilities promised to provide the care needed by residents and then failed to meet residents' most basic human needs. That is simply unacceptable,” Kane said in a news release. 

No one from Golden Living could be reached. 

Golden Living facilities made about $54 million in profit off $563 million in net revenue between 2008-2013, according to the 95-page complaint filed in Commonwealth Court. The majority of its income came from residents and the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Program, the complaint said. 

Referencing more than a dozen confidential witnesses, the Attorney General's Office said the facilities misled consumers into believing their loved ones were receiving excellent care when in reality the homes were understaffed and put patients at risk. 

The injunction seeks $1,000 per violation of the law, or up to $3,000 for every violation involving a person 60 or older, and restitution for consumers, injunctive relief and costs of litigation. 

The Attorney General's Office asks that anyone with complaints concerning Golden Living facilities or other health care facilities contact its Health Care Section by calling 877-888-4877 or visiting

Full Article & Source:
Attorney general accuses Golden Living homes of failing to provide basic services to elderly